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Old December 19 2012, 03:26 AM   #789
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Re: La-La Land to release 15-disc original series score set

Well, I just finished the last two discs, and I feel this perverse impulse to give Warped9 a spoiler warning...

The last two discs include George Duning's three contributions to season 3, and... oh, my gods, "The Empath." Just amazing. Gorgeous, passionate, soulful, moving music, possibly my favorite TOS score. One of the best finale cues, too, with the triumphant rising strings just before the fanfare. I've had the Steiner/Varese Sarabande "Empath" suite for ages, but the original sounds so much better. Oh, and "Is There in Truth No Beauty?" is good too. The two have a lot of similarities, and it doesn't surprise me that they were recorded back-to-back (although that must've been one long day for Duning and most of the performers).

"And the Children Shall Lead" is a better score than I remembered. It has some excellent bits at the beginning and end, particularly "Triacus," "Triacus Burial," and the finale. There's a lot here that I'm not too familiar with, since most of it wasn't tracked and I don't watch the episode that often. How wonderful that I can now listen to the music without having to put up with that awful, awful episode!

Oh, and the Ivan Ditmars Brahms paraphrase from "Requiem for Methuselah" is nice too. The Wilbur Hatch presidential fanfare from "Savage Curtain" is more mediocre -- mainly just a historical curiosity, as the last bit of TOS music recorded.

The library cues on the final disc were a little underwhelming. I recognized a few of them -- another case where I've been aware of the differences all along but wasn't consciously sure I was hearing differences. Others I'm not so sure of, and on the whole they just sounded like inferior versions of the original cues, as if they were rushing through it or didn't have performers of the same quality.

Also, I have to wonder, are these selections of library cues not exhaustive? Because I'm sure there's at least one "Where No Man..." cue that was in "The Lights of Zetar" but wasn't heard here, namely "Force Field." So either that was re-recorded but not included on the box set, or the episode used the original recording in violation of union rules. (And come to think of it, the same goes for "Vina's Dance" in "Wolf in the Fold." That wasn't included in the second-season library cues. And the version in "Wolf" did sound like the same performance from "The Cage," though as I've learned from this set, I'm not necessarily good at discerning the difference between performances.)

Although there are inevitably some quibbles -- mainly regret that the liner notes weren't several times as extensive -- this is still an amazing piece of work from Neil and the folks at La-La Land, and they have my deep thanks. This is something I've wanted for most of my life and never thought I'd get, and now it's sitting on my dresser. And all 15 discs are unscratched and glitch-free, and hopefully will stay that way until I can get them "ripped" into my computer.

I found it interesting to notice the various themes the main characters and entities in the series were (or weren't) given. Let's see:

Captain Kirk had three themes: Courage's 4-note "Captain's Theme"; Steiner's 9-note leitmotif that he used in every one of his TOS scores; and Fried's extended theme that he used in all his second-season scores, forming the basis of "Captain Kirk/Mace Fight" in "Catspaw." Other composers just used the Courage fanfare for Kirk.

The Enterprise had two themes: the Courage fanfare and Steiner's inversion thereof which was introduced in "Kirk's Command" in "Charlie X." Maybe three, since Steiner introduced a new variation of the "Kirk's Command" melody in the third season. (I'm not sure if any movie composers have come up with themes specifically for Kirk or for the Enterprise; usually they just seem to use the movie's main theme for both.)

Spock, surprisingly, only had one TOS composer write thematic material for him, Gerald Fried in "Amok Time," although George Duning adopted Fried's "Mr. Spock" cue as his Spock theme. This is particularly surprising considering how many different leitmotifs Spock has been given in the movies (by Jerry Goldsmith, James Horner, Cliff Eidelmann, and Michael Giacchino at least).

Conversely, Janice Rand made only a few appearances but had two distinct themes. Sol Kaplan gave her a burlesque-styled motif in "The Enemy Within" -- a bit tasteless considering she was the victim of an attempted rape there, but then everything about that is tasteless by today's standards -- and Steiner featured a Janice theme (or maybe a theme for Charlie's obsession with Janice) in "Charlie X."

Other semi-regulars: Fielding's "A Matter of Pride" from "Tribbles" served as a Scotty theme. And Courage's "The Naked Time" gave us a Sulu theme in "D'Artagnan-san" and a Chapel theme in "Medicine Girl." But of all the semi-regulars' themes, Scotty's was the only one that was used for the character more than once. (Movie-wise, Chekov got a Russian-styled theme for the aircraft carrier chase in The Voyage Home, courtesy of Leonard Rosenman. I think that's about it.)

The Klingons were given themes by two TOS composers: Fried gave them a 12-note motif which was used throughout "Friday's Child," and Steiner's "Elaan of Troyius" gave us a powerful Klingon ship motif and related Klingon battle motif. Ditto the Romulans: Steiner's "Romulan Theme" (repurposed for the Mirror Universe and Henoch) and Courage's 4-note motif from "The Enterprise Incident" -- along with his love theme for the Romulan commander, which I still think is an homage to Steiner's Romulan theme. (Later Klingon themes were contributed by Goldsmith, Horner, and Eidelmann in the movies and Ron Jones in TNG, though Jones's was based on Goldsmith's; later Romulan themes were provided by Jones and Don Davis on TNG and Goldsmith in Nemesis.)
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