Star Trek: The Next Generation- Collection, Vol. 1
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Featuring more than 3 full hours of previously unreleased music, Star Trek: The Next Generation Collection, Volume 1 showcases some of the most dynamic pieces of score ever composed for this beloved and acclaimed series. Renowned composers Dennis McCarthy, Jay Chattaway, Don Davis, John Debney and Fred Steiner are all represented on this limited edition set of 3000 Units, which complies many of the very best musical contributions to the most famous and celebrated sci-fi franchise in television history. Produced by Ford Thaxton, Mark Banning, James Nelson and Lukas Kendall, this release, mastered by James Nelson, includes a 32-Page Booklet featuring liner notes from film/TV music writer Jeff Bond.
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CD 1: I've always been a big fan of Dennis McCarthy's music since I was a kid and heard his work on the MacGyver series and later on Star Trek TNG. While I think that they could have made some better choices as to which of McCarthy's pieces to feature on this album, it's nevertheless well worth it. The music for 'Haven', McCarthy's first episode after scoring the pilot, is unusual for Star Trek, very romantic and melodic, and really beautiful. I didn't care much for the actual episode, but the music is some of McCarthy's best. For 'Hide and Q' they only chose to release the music from one scene, in my opinion they should have chosen a few more scenes from this episode which featured some really great dramatic action music in earlier parts of the episode. Nevertheless, not bad by any means. The same goes for 'Conspiracy', a very dark and tense episode with great music especially during the first part of the episode, but again they chose the last part with very disharmonic music, interesting and very effective in the episode but not exactly what I would like to listen to very often. 'The Child' is one of the best choices they could have made, already years ago I thought this should be released. A full orchestral celebratory grand opening, after that some mysterious and dark moments when the life form enters the Enterprise searching for a host. In the second part there is a nice mix of dramatic music and a joyful moment when Troi's child is born, back to McCarthy's typically dramatic underscoring where you can feel the danger and tension when the containment is about to breach. 'Time Squared' is again very dark and mysterious with a wonderful action sequence when Picard decides to take the Ship into the energy vortex, this part reminds very much of McCarthy's dramatic underscoring with rhythmic string and brass combinations much like the MacGyver episodes he scored in the late 80's and early 90's, finishing with the 4-chord sequence from the opening of the episode 'The Child'. About 'The Survivors', another score I had been hoping for for the longest time, I was extremely thrilled and at the the same time a bit disappointed. In this episode there are three attacks on the Enterprise by an unknown and mysterious warship, all these scenes are accompanied by some of McCarthy's greatest action music ever. Unfortunately only one of these scenes is released here, about 1 min 40 sec into track 17 (unbridged). Track 17 also starts with a great, haunting piece while Troi is being tortured by telepathically transmitted music. I think rather than releasing 3 variations of the waltz danced by Kevin and his wife, they should have included another ship attack scene instead. However, I am very excited about this release all the same. 'Sarek' is an outstanding score, mostly dissonant, very emotional while Sarek's emotions are out of control within Picard's mind after the mind meld. In 'Conundrum' we're back to an exciting action cue while the crew is forced to launch an attack against an unknown civilization while suffering from amnesia, with an evil alien crew member is hiding among the crew. Overall a very enjoyable selection with many good moments, not a perfect selection of music but far from bad.
CD 2: Jay Chattaway was a great addition to the composer team of TNG. His music was unusual for TNG but very fitting. 'Remember Me', the second episode he scored as a guest composer, was extremely well made, and the music was perfect for it; mystery, suspense, action, a great mix. 'The Host', 'Darmok' and 'Silicon Avatar', some of Chattaway's first episodes after replacing Ron Jones as a regular composer, feature some very exciting, rhythmic action music, the odd time it seems you can hear some of Dennis McCarthy's style in there, but in general Chattaway still has his very own style. In later episodes, especially in the 6th and 7th season I always felt that Chattaway was unable to get variety into his compositions, for sure partly because the producers wanted the music to be less prominent in the episodes, unfortunately it took a lot of the excitement out of Chattaway's music (McCarthy's as well, but to a lesser degree).
CD 3: Very interesting and exciting was the release of three scores composed by guest composers:
1. Fred Steiner, a regular composer of the original series, was brought back, and while his music was very entertaining, it was not much different than his scores from the original series, which is probably why he was not asked to compose for any more episodes after that, it was in a way too old fashioned.
2. Don Davis' score is one of a kind for TNG, it's composed more like a movie than an episode, which is what makes it very interesting to listen to. In my opinion it's very suitable for this particular episode because it's an unusually "big" story, and the sound is equally big, much more prominent than McCarthy's and Chattaway's scores. A great choice by the album makers.
3. John Debney did a wonderful Job as well in the episode 'The Pegasus'. His style is in a way very similar to McCarthy's, I'm not sure if that was a coincidence or if he did this on purpose to adjust to TNG scoring requirements. But also like Davis' score for 'Face of the Enemy', Debney's score is more prominent, quite melodic at times and extremely enjoyable.
To summarize, this album is simply great, for this price almost a steal. I would recommend this to any Star Trek Fan, movie soundtrack collector and pretty much to anyone who enjoys classical music who's not afraid of something a bit different. This album has a lot of variety and never gets boring. A great thanks to the producers, I hope it's not the last one.