Much as I like TNG's rousing arrangement of TMP's theme...
Hm? As far as I can tell, it's essentially the exact same arrangement, just for a smaller orchestra. It's just conducted differently, and to my ear less deftly, so it's not as pleasant to listen to as the performances conducted by Goldsmith.
Good catch. Arrangement is the wrong word. Listening to the End Credits now (with Ilia's Theme interjected), it's evident there's more air in the recording and the horn players are more expressive -- even listening to the compressed mp3 on tinny earbuds.
I also agree the TNG version sounds like a smaller orchestra, which is all the more pronounced now that I have a quality audio rig at home. Nevertheless, even first run the tempo always felt faster, making it less majestic to me. Like you, I'd mostly chalk it up to Goldsmith's conducting chops being stronger than McCarthy's (better engineering, too). Still, I'm glad they resurrected the TMP theme rather than go with McCarthy's own rejected submission.
Off-topic, I sometimes attend lectures at the Smithsonian's Air and Space Museum and its great sitting in their IMAX theater beforehand and hear Goldsmith's theme play through their system. Unfortunately, Spinal Tap obviously isn't behind the boards because the volume is far from 11.