Silva America’s 2003 themed compilation is all things Star Trek, with an emphasis on the main and end themes of the entire theatrical run prior to J.J. Abram’s 2009 reboot, as well as some excellent suites derived from the various TV incarnations.
Performed by The City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra with Nic Rain holding the baton, the performances are largely faithful to the emotional impact and tempo of the original recordings, which is particularly important for the album’s opening cues – Alexander Courage’s famous title theme, and Jerry Goldsmith’s “End Titles” music from the first Star Trek film.
Raine nicely guides the orchestra through Goldsmith’s film and Ilia theme (still one of the most exquisite love themes ever written, even when it gushes and swells with melodrama), and the only element lacking among the re-recorded selections is the famous bass thunder from the original film and album mixes (namely the first Columbia release, not the expanded edition, which dialed down the low frequency oomph).
More so than the later films, the biggest challenge for anyone rerecording elements of the first film are the electronic effects, which are so unique and vintage. The emulations for the famous blaster beam used for the V’ger cloud works, as well as some subtle effects that faithfully evoke the twisting metallic and pinched synth sounds of the original recording.
Courage’s theme is also given an excellent rendition, including the near-perfect vocal part that made the show’s theme an elegant mix of sixties orchestral pop.
The transition between series and film themes on both CDs is quite fluid, given there’s a diverse collection of themes written across 40 years by many composers. The core points are a sense of adventure for the high seas (er, space exploration), romanticism, the limitless mysteries of outer space; and the human presence amid deadly, weird and wonderful phenomena.
Goldsmith and James Horner’s material (the latter for the second and third films) is perhaps the best-known, but the album also showcases some excellent suites from the TV incarnations, of which the best is Ron Jones’ elegiac (and 9 min. long) “Tasha’s Farewell” from Star Trek: The Next Generation, and Dennis McCarthy’s mournful “He’s Toast” from Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.
By journeying through the entire Star Trek musical run, it’s clear the music that feels the most faithful to the show’s concept and Courage’s design are those who were inspired by Courage and Goldsmith, whereas the most jarring is Leonard Rosenman’s jaunty theme for the fourth feature film. Cliff Eidelman’s moody secondary theme for the sixth film still works, and Raine’s conducting and the CD’s sharp engineering captures the robust brassy quality of the original film score – probably the most underrated in the film franchise due to its association with one of the worst films.
In between groups of cues are some sound effects that don’t necessarily add much to the listening experience, but perhaps function as sonic pauses between themes, which isn’t a bad idea given Courage’s and Goldsmith’s themes do reappear quite frequently throughout the two CDs.
The double-disc set includes a booklet with suite and theme notes, although the descriptive passages differ from the album order: the notes address the original cast show and films, followed by the spin-offs, and the composer names perhaps should’ve been more prominently tied to the titles (although there’s a chronological album breakdown at the end).
© 2009 Mark R. Hasan