Taking the musical reins from the legendary Jerry Goldsmith, James Horner boarded the Starship Enterprise to deliver what would prove to be his breakthrough score. A surprisingly dark, emotional effort some distance removed from Goldsmith's utopian fanfare, Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan was instrumental in steering the franchise into more complex territory. Horner's lucid melodies and sweeping orchestral arrangements possess a sense of genuine danger and malice long absent from Star Trek's musical backdrop, climaxing in the profoundly emotional catharsis of "Spock." His efforts lend Trek creator Gene Roddenberry's vision a newfound gravitas.
While Mike Nichols' 1966 film of Edward Albee's Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? gets more frightening every time you watch it, Alexander North's score to the same film gets more consoling every time you hear it. Nichols' film, particularly the performances by Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton, has scenes of terrific intensity, but North's score, though faithful to what's on screen, has a tenderness, even a sweetness, that transforms the ultimate meaning of the film. Part of it is North's characteristically evocative orchestration with some cues delicately scored for guitar, celesta, bass clarinet, harpsichord, and a pair of harps, while others are scored for spare almost spooky winds arrayed against soothing strings. But most of it is North's soaring melodies and brooding harmonies – and especially his big-hearted main theme. By prefiguring the film's reconciliatory ending, the solace offered by North's score transfigures all the horrors enacted between Taylor and Burton.
Whenever he was asked to name his own personal favorite within his long and distinguished oeuvre, Jerry Goldsmith inevitably cited his work on 1977's obscure Ernest Hemingway adaptation Islands in the Stream. A lush, often melancholy score evoking both the serenity and the treachery of the sea, it is undoubtedly Goldsmith's most intimate effort, eschewing the larger-than-life drama and suspense of his best-known soundtracks. Islands in the Stream is above all a showcase for the composer's consummate ability to vividly communicate both the physical and emotional landscape in such simple yet precise strokes – employing little but a lone French horn, Goldsmith's main theme captures the immense loneliness and solitude of George C. Scott's protagonist, while gentle woodwinds suggest the ocean waves lapping the shore of his island home.
One of Jerry Goldsmith’s greatest sci-fi/fantasy scores comes to CD in complete form: Twilight Zone: The Movie, the 1983 anthology film inspired by the classic Rod Serling TV series. No composer was better suited to score the big-screen Twilight Zone adaptation than Jerry Goldsmith. By the early 1980s Goldsmith was a master in every genre of film, from intimate dramas to large-scale adventures, but he was particularly noted for his landmark scores for science fiction: Planet of the Apes, Star Trek: The Motion Picture, Alien and more—including Poltergeist (1982), for Twilight Zone: The Movie producer and co-director Steven Spielberg, and the original Twilight Zone series, for which Goldsmith scored classic episodes like “The Invaders”.
For fans of Jerry Goldsmith's score for Ridley Scott 1978 movie Alien, this two-disc Intrada set is the ultimate fantasy. Everything is here and then some. Disc 1 contains Goldsmith's entire score as he originally intended it with every cue in place, including those that were later cut from the film plus his recomposed versions of cues the director made him change (Goldsmith's original main theme, for example, appears without its signature heroic trumpet melody because the director thought it wasn't creepy enough). Disc 2 includes the original soundtrack as issued on LP plus six other bonus tracks of demonstration takes and even the brief except from Eine kleine Nachtmusik used in the film. The stereo sound here is fabulous, the performances definitive, and the liner notes exhaustive. And the score, like the film, is a classic of its genre. With its mixture of the ecstatic chromaticism of Scriabin, the skittering strings of Penderecki, the harmonic waves of Ligeti, and the atmospheric percussion of Herrmann, Goldsmith's score became a template for all subsequent science fiction/horror movies.