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50 Years of Star Trek Music: Josh Enjoys Star Trek: The Ultimate Voyage Concert Tour CD!

So, I love Star Trek, and I also love movie soundtracks.  That’s just the type of nerd I am.  So, of course, I really love Star Trek soundtracks.  I’ve written about quite a few here on the site.  I was excited when I read that, in honor of Trek’s 50th anniversary this year, there would be a concert tour in which music from the various Trek movies and TV shows would be performed.  That is right up my alley!  Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to make it to one of the concert performances.  But when I learned that a CD of the concert was being released, I snapped that right up!  (You can too, by clicking here.)

Star Trek.The Ultimate Voyage

Star Trek: The Ultimate Voyage is a magnificent two-CD set in which the Czech National Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Justin Freer, performs music from across the fifty year history of Star Trek.  I was very impressed by the track choices.  There are a few “musts” that of course were included (like Jerry Goldsmith’s Main Titles from Star Trek: The Motion Picture to the suite from “The Inner Light” from Star Trek: The Next Generation).  But beyond that, I was impressed by some of the very deep cuts made by the music selection.  (I was shocked and delighted that, for example, an exciting track from the Deep Space Nine final-season episode “The Changing Face of Evil” was included!)  If the track selection has one weakness it is perhaps an over-reliance in music from Star Trek: The Motion Picture, but it’s hard to complain about so many wonderful selections from the master Jerry Goldsmith.

Let’s dive in, shall we?

Disc One:

1.  “Main Title” from Star Trek: The Motion Picture An obvious and perfect choice to open the concert, we begin with Jerry Goldsmith’s magnificent main theme from Star Trek: The Motion Picture.  For many fans, this is THE definitive Star Trek music, even more so than Alexander Courage’s main theme from the Original Series.  (That this music was also used as the main theme for Star Trek: The Next Generation helped cement its importance.)  This is iconic music, instantly memorable, and among the very best movie theme music ever written.

2. “Main Title” from Star Trek: Generations Right away, I was impressed by the choices made by the makers of this concert, as this is an inspired choice to place here at the beginning of the concert.  This theme, by Dennis McCarthy, is a slow build to a triumphant declaration of Alexander Courage’s classic Star Trek fanfare (as the bottle of Chateau Picard wine smashes into the hull of the Enterprise B, christening the ship for launch).

3. “The Enterprise” from Star Trek: The Motion Picture It’s hard to argue with the inclusion of this track, as this is classic music from a classic scene: the revelation of the beautiful refit Enterprise from Star Trek: The Motion Picture.  This is gorgeous music from a gorgeous sequence.  Like the sequence in the film, though, the track goes on a little long.

4. “Klingon Battle” from Star Trek: The Motion Picture Here again, it’s hard to argue with the inclusion of this track, as it is the first appearance of Jerry Goldsmith’s iconic Klingon music that would go on to be reprised again and again across the many Trek movies and TV shows.  But like track #3, this track goes on a little too long and I started to feel a little TMP fatigue set in.  (I also don’t care for the synthesized “thwangs” that were so prevalent in Mr. Goldsmith’s TMP score.  Those haven’t aged so well.)

5. “The Ancient Combat/2nd Kroykah” from Star Trek: The Original Series The first of many wonderful surprises from this concert, it was a delight to hear this iconic combat music from “Amok Time,” in which Kirk and Spock are forced to fight to the death on Vulcan.  I love this music.

6. “Ba’Ku Theme” from Star Trek: Insurrection If I were to list my favorite pieces of Star Trek music, I doubt I’d think to include this track.  Insurrection isn’t a great movie, and as a fan I like a little more bombast in my Trek movie opening music.  But listened to here as a part of this concert, I have to admit that this is an absolutely gorgeous piece of music by the great Jerry Goldsmith (who has been dominating the beginning of this concert so far!), and it’s very much worthy of inclusion.

7. “Starship/Kirk’s Philosophy” from Star Trek: The Original Series I must admit that I didn’t recognize this music from the Original Series episode “Return to Tomorrow.”  It’s a beautiful piece, though this wouldn’t have made my list of iconic Trek music.

8. “Kirk Does It Again” from Star Trek: The Original Series This piece, on the other hand, is, like track #5, a classic piece of Original Series music.  In this case, it’s the suspenseful combat music from “The Doomsday Machine,” one of my favorite Classic Trek episodes.  I love the pounding Doomsday Machine theme.

9. “Main Title” from Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Glad to hear the beautiful theme music, written by Dennis McCarthy, from my favorite of the Trek series.

10. “Ilia’s Theme” from Star Trek: The Motion Picture This track was the “overture” played before the opening credits of Star Trek: The Motion Picture.  This early part of the concert has a bit too much TMP music to suit me, but again, these Jerry Goldsmith pieces are so good that it’s hard to argue.  This beautiful love theme is a gorgeous piece of music, and one often overlooked in favor of other TMP themes (such as the main title or Klingon music) that were reused after TMP.

11. “Revealed/Reaching Out” from Star Trek: The Next Generation I understand the logic of including a piece of music from “Encounter at Farpoint”, the premiere episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation, because of its importance in Trek history, but this piece (from the climactic moment in which the Farpoint Station is revealed as a giant space-dwelling creature) is a bit dull for my tastes.

12. “Courage/Saved Again” from Star Trek: The Next Generation Similarly, I like the poetry of following up that piece from “Farpoint” with a sample of music from “All Good Things…”, the final episode of TNG.  But this track was a somewhat odd choice, a slow piece from an episode that has some terrific music.  (I’d have chosen the piece of music that closes the episode, as Picard finally joins his shipmates and friends at their poker game and the Enterprise soars off into the distance.)

13. “Main Title” from Star Trek: Voyager I don’t much care for Voyager, but I can understand why they wanted to include some music from the show, and I freely admit that this main theme music is gorgeous.

14. “Main Title” from Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home I adore this music by Leonard Rosenman, so unusual for a Star Trek movie main theme.  Its up-beat, playful tone is infectious.  This track, though, was one of the few times in which I felt the orchestra didn’t quite capture the original music, there was just something a tad off about this rendition.

15. “Red Alert” from Star Trek: First Contact and “Captain Borg” from Star Trek: The Next Generation In a genius move, they have combined Jerry Goldsmith’s Borg music from Star Trek: First Contact (specifically the brief but exciting fight against the Borg Cube in Earth’s orbit from the start of the film, which also features a reprise of Mr. Horner’s Klingon theme heard in track 4) with Ron Jones’ spectacular, memorable music from the cliffhanger moment at the end of “The Best of Both Worlds” Part I in which Picard is revealed to have been assimilated by the Borg and Riker orders the Enterprise to fire on the Borg Cube.  I was bowled over by how seamlessly the two pieces of music fit together.  What a clever move, and what a perfect way to end the first half of the concert.

Disc Two:

1. “Opening” from Starfleet Academy I applaud the makers of this concert for including this deep cut, a Ron Jones-scored piece from a Star Trek videogame.  But I’ve never played the game so have no attachment to this music, and I didn’t find it particularly memorable.

2. “Epilogue and End Title” from Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan This, on the other hand, is some of the very best Star Trek music ever written.  I adore James Horner’s magnificent music for Star Trek II and Star Trek III, and this lengthy track is a gorgeous example of Mr. Horner’s brilliance.  This piece of music scored the final moments of Star Trek II, as Kirk finds some solace after the death of his friend.  Mr. Horner’s themes are combined with a lovely statement of Alexander Courage’s Classic Trek fanfare as we head into the film’s closing credits and a beautiful presentation of all of Mr. Horner’s main themes.  Poignant and thrilling, this is some of my personal very favorite Star Trek music ever written.

3. “First Contact” from Star Trek: First Contact Another beautiful piece of music from the great Jerry Goldsmith, this is the music from the climactic moment in First Contact in which a critical moment of Trek history takes place: the first contact between Humans and Vulcans.  I adore Mr. Goldsmith’s soaring First Contact theme, one of the great pieces of movie music and one of the very best pieces of Star Trek score.

4. “Defiant Ending” from Star Trek: Deep Space Nine As I noted above, I was bowled over to see this piece of music, depicting an action-packed starship battle and then the destruction of the U.S.S. Defiant at the hands of the Dominion from “The Changing Face of Evil,” part of the spectacular eight-part DS9 series finale.  This doesn’t happen to be my favorite piece of DS9 music (there was a lot of better stuff contained in the recent four-CD collection of music from Deep Space Nine), but I am not complaining.  Rather, I am delighted that some wonderful music from my favorite Trek show was included in this concert.  It would have been easy for them to have just included the DS9 main theme, but including a track like this shows the attention to detail and deep love of Trek the makers of this concert clearly had.

5. “I Can Live With It” from Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Ditto.  This is another impressively deep cut, a piece of music from the end of the DS9 episode “In the Pale Moonlight” in which Sisko sacrifices his principles in favor of the greater good, an attempt to bring the Romulans over to the side of the Federation and the Klingons in their war against the Dominion.  This slow, dark piece of music is classic DS9.  As with “Defiant Ending,” I don’t think I would count this piece as one of my very favorites from the show, but it’s nonetheless a delight to have it included here.

6. “The Inner Light Suite” from Star Trek: The Next Generation Possibly the single greatest piece of Star Trek music ever written.  This is a more lengthy arrangement (created for release on CD years ago) of the gorgeous “Ressikan flute” theme that features heavily in the magnificent episode of TNG, “The Inner Light.”  In this episode, a beam from an alien probe sends Picard into a coma, and in just a few minutes he lives a lifetime among a doomed alien culture, starting a family and becoming a grandfather.  This gorgeous, heartbreaking music by Jay Chattaway is lovely and poignant, and I adore it.

7. “Set Course for Home” from Star Trek: Voyager I don’t have much to say about this piece from the premiere episode of Star Trek: Voyager other than that it’s lovely to have some more work by Jay Chattaway, who scored so many episodes of Star Trek from all the 24th-century-set series, included in this concert.  I do like the way this track incorporates the main Voyager theme and also some hints at the classic Alexander Courage fanfare.

8. “Enterprising Young Men” from Star Trek I enjoyed J.J. Abrams’ 2009 Star Trek reboot, even though I have a lot of problems with it.  Similarly, while I love Michael Giacchino, I didn’t love his score for the film.  However, this track, which features Mr. Giacchino’s main theme for the rebooted Trek, captures the very best of Mr. Giacchino’s score.  I must admit that this theme is dynamite, propulsive and catchy and very memorable.

9. “The Captain” from Star Trek: Voyager As with track #7, I don’t have much to say about this piece of Voyager music by Dennis McCarthy, with which I am not that familiar.  (In this case, this music comes from the fifth season Voyager episode “The Year of Hell.”)  I enjoyed its inclusion here — it’s a lovely and somewhat bittersweet piece.

10.  “End Credits Suite” from Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country — Now this, on the other hand, is some of my very favorite Trek music.  I absolutely love Cliff Eidelman’s unusually dark, somber main theme music from Star Trek VI (which is also one of my very favorite Trek stories of all time), and this End Credits Suite is a wonderful assemblage of this music.  (Though, as with track 14 on disc one, this track is a rare instance in which I felt the concert orchestra didn’t quite capture the spark of the original music.)

11. “Up Your Alley” from Star Trek: Enterprise As with the Voyager tracks, I don’t have much memory of or emotional connection to this track from Star Trek: Enterprise, but I love that the makers of this concert went to such great lengths to include some music — and not just the main titles, which would have been the easy route — from all the Trek shows.  This particular piece of music is from the episode “Horizons”, which spotlighted the culture of families who spent their lives on spaceships traveling from planet to planet before the advent of high-warp engines.  It’s a lovely piece.

12. “Archer’s Speech” from Star Trek: Enterprise As with the previous track, I don’t personally think this is a particularly memorable bit of Trek music, but I love the thinking behind including this piece, which scored one of the climactic moments from the end of Enterprise: Archer’s speech at the founding of what would become the United Federation of Planets from “Terra Prime,” the series’ penultimate episode.  It’s mostly a slow track, but builds to a nice crescendo at the end and nicely incorporates the main Enterprise theme.

13. “Overture” from Star Trek: Generations This is a beautiful, nicely bombastic presentation of Jerry Goldsmith’s main theme from Star Trek: Generations.  (I believe this is the “end credits” music from the film.)  It’s not such a famous piece of music in the Trek universe, but as with all of Mr. Goldsmith’s work I think it is absolutely marvelous and I love that it was included here.  (Though I wouldn’t have objected had this track been cut off before the slow “Nexus” music began.)

14. “To Live Forever” from Star Trek: Generations This is a great choice to close out this concert.  This piece by Dennis McCarthy from the end of Star Trek: Generations is poignant and also contains a thrilling final beat of Trek music.  And the sentiment expressed by the scene and the track title are perfect — Star Trek, its ideas and characters, and also its music, will live forever.

15. “Main Theme” from Star Trek: The Original Series In a clever twist, the concert ends at the beginning, with the very first piece of Star Trek music from fifty years ago: Alexander Courage’s main theme from the Original Series.  But rather than presenting this theme in its usual form, they have “remixed” it somewhat.  I like the idea somewhat more than the execution.  But still, this is a terrific way to bring a spectacular concert to a close.

I thoroughly enjoyed this magnificent trip back through fifty years of amazing Star Trek music.  Bravo and a tip of my hat to all the talented men and women involved in the creation of this concert, and this CD.  (That includes Jeff Bond, who has once again turned in spectacularly detailed and insightful liner notes that accompany the CD.)  For the serious Trek fans out there, this CD set is not to be missed.  It’s a wonderful celebration of this fifty-year-old franchise.

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