I must admit I am a big Star Trek fan, but this set is a revelation. It blows any bootleg or previous official release out of the water. Fans have been waiting for a release like this for many years, and it delivers! It is part of a steady stream of expanded editions of Star Trek film music soundtracks that have come out over the last few years, and which is still going on. The sound on this set, compared to any other release (the 1979 album on LP, later on CD, and the expanded 20th anniversary edition in 1999), is wonderful and reveals the depth of the scoring stage and all the finest (orchestral and musical) details (some of which I had never noticed). This score is remastered from the first-generation analogue recordings, but tape hiss is non-existent to negligible. All of the music 'unrolling' in in chronological order, combined with the enhanced sound, add to the whole listening experience. And the 40 page booklet tells you everything you want to know about the music and its genesis. All who love the music of Star Trek or the music of Jerry Goldsmith have surely heard about this release already before it came out and ordered it when it became available at La-La-Land Records. They blew through almost half the entire run (10.000 units) in a few days!
To quote the booklet, this set delivers a comprehensive presentation of the score along with unused early versions of several cues, the 1979 soundtrack LP album (along with the sonic and aesthetic standards of 1979), alternates, outtakes and historic scoring-stage excerpts. Disc 1 and part of disc 2 cover the film score. The rest of disc 2 is covered by 7 tracks of the unused early versions plus the 1979 album. Disc 3 covers alternates and additional music. The booklet is excellent and begins with an essay on the history of the creation of the music for Star Trek: The Motion Picture. It then moves on to describe, track by track, the cues on all the 3 discs. The total time of the 3 discs amounts to 3 hours, 41 minutes and 13 seconds.
Some interesting observations on this edition (with help from the booklet). The early version cues (disc 2, track 4-10) generally have more flourishes/ornamentations. The melody for the Enterprise is not clearly evident in the early version of the cue 'The Enterprise' (it is there, but only in 'embryonic' state, as it were), and Robert Wise and others didn't like the free flowing, 'aquatic' feel. Also, the early version doesn't yet have the bouncing Starfleet motive with which the cue as heard in the movie begins and ends, in quite different orchestrations. So Jerry Goldsmith went back and pulled the music into focus and came up with a clearer melody and quite different music cue altogether. The music for 'Spock's arrival' would be completely changed as well. The early version has music that is derived from the early version 'The Enterprise', not the exotic, 'alien' music as heard in 'Total Logic'. Interestingly, Jerry Goldsmith would bring this early version music back for the introduction of the Enterprise in Star Trek V: The Final Frontier. (This for me only strengthens the link between the two scores, which I like equally well.) This whole expanded set is wonderful listening and it makes me personally understand the music better, as it makes me analyze and experience it more deeply on different levels, emotionally and intellectually. Though sometimes it is difficult to see (feel?) where logic ends and emotion begins ;)
Some thoughts on the music in general. The music for 'Star Trek: The Motion Picture' to my mind completely fits the images on screen as envisioned by Robert Wise and all of the people who created the style, art and special effects of this movie (with the Director's Edition as a benchmark). There are, I learned as I listened to the music and the commentaries, mainly three kinds of music in this score.
First of all, and most original to my taste, there is the music that underscores (the threat of) V'ger and its inner workings. These are mysterious, eerie and dark soundscapes, with organ-like pedal-notes to give size and weight to the enormity of V'ger (and the V'ger cloud), and with lots of electronic sounds to underscore the strangeness and the 'barren and cold', machine-like but unimaginably vast intelect of V'ger. The most recognizable symbol for V'ger is of course the so called 'blaster beam'; a truly marvelous invention that truly hammers down the power and agressiveness of V'ger.
Secondly, there is the music for Spock, who in this movie is on a quest for total logic, but is deviated from it by the haunting 'call' of V'ger, causing him to join the Enterprise, so as to be able to seek out V'ger for himself to go try and find his answers there. Spock's music is often closely entwined with the music for V'ger, necessarily, as these two characters are in mind-contact the whole of the time. But generally, Spock's music is a characterization of the strangeness of his planet, his culture and his way of life and the search for total logic. We hear a lot of (rumbling) percussion (soft ceremonial drums) in this 'Spock music', used to accentuate the otherworldly character of his culture and ways of life. The music for Spock and the music for V'ger are coming to a complete meld in the magnificent 'Spock Walk'. But this cold music is also there to accentuate Spock's search for (the still unanswered question of) meaning and fulfillment, which he will ultimately find in (re)joining the all too human and emotional crew of the Enterprise. Like V'ger, Spock has evolved beyond logic and knowledge and found true meaning.
Thirdly, there is the music that introduces to us our great 'heroine', USS Enterprise, (cue 'The Enterprise') built up around the 'Main Title', slowly growing from sweetly romantic to bold and sweeping when she finaly floats into view for Kirk and us to behold in full glory. As the Enterprise 'and all that go with her' can be seen as being one and the same, the 'Main Theme' (in combination with the bouncing Starfleet motive) also stands for the spirit of Star Trek: 'To boldly go where no man has gone before'.
The bold and inspiring music of 'Star Trek: The Motion Picture' enhances the whole experience of watching the movie enormously. But surely this is a music soundtrack of the very highest invention and artistry that can easily be listened to on its own.
Anyway, this magnificent set reveals Jerry Goldsmith's music for Star Trek: The Motion Picture in all its glory and richness. Highly, highly recommended.