Star Trek has been so very lucky with its composers. Back in the day, we had that soaring Alexander Courage theme and incidentals to the original series and the stunning incidental music by the likes of Sol Kaplan, Fred Steiner and Gerald Fried. Jerry Goldsmith's superb work on Star Trek-The Motion Picture was as important a benchmark as Courage's own themes, going on to influence Star Trek - The Next Generation and the films it bequeathed to the franchise, the highlight there for Goldsmith fans being the music for First Contact.

But there is another, equally important composer who left the franchise with a fine musical legacy and that's James Horner. The scores for Star Trek II: The Wrath Of Khan and Star Trek III: The Search For Spock were the calling cards for a relatively unknown composer and certainly the thrilling score for The Wrath Of Khan can rightly be seen as his major Hollywood breakthrough.

It is now such a delight to see that the entire score has finally been re-released through Screen Archives Entertainment and Film Score Monthly, extending the original album release of 1982 which only covered 45 minutes of the 75 minute score and finally offering up many longed for cues. This is one of those rare soundtracks where the music is emotionally bonded to the film. You listen to the music and you are re-experiencing the film itself and here with the music chronologically presented it acquires an added power. It's a wonderful, vivid score to a highly entertaining and much cherished film and now we have it complete on CD.

The additional 30 minutes comprises of several previously unreleased cues: 'Surprise on Ceti Alpha V' (0:45), 'Khan's Pets' (4:19), 'The Eels of Ceti Alpha V/Kirk in Space Shuttle' (3:53), 'Chekov Lies' (0:40), 'Kirk Takes Command/He Tasks Me' (2:07) 'Genesis Project' (3:16) - Craig Huxley's unearthly electronica that accompanied the Genesis demo tape - 'Inside Regula I' (1:35) 'Brainwashed' (1:24), 'Captain Terrell's Death' (1:58), 'Buried Alive' (0:57), 'The Genesis Cave' (1:09) 'Enterprise Attacks Reliant' (1:29), 'Spock (Dies)' (1:53), 'Amazing Grace' (1:26). And they are all in the order in which they appear in the film which provides the new album with real coherence as a listening experience.

The ingenue Horner (he was only 28 when he composed this score and was little known) certainly provides a rich and captivating set of themes, with predominant motifs for Kirk and the Enterprise, Spock and villain Khan weaving and overlapping throughout. There really is a sense of the battle of wills between Kirk and Khan here and it echoes Erich Korngold's stirring scores for Captain Blood and The Sea Hawk, conjuring images of full sailed galleons in frenzied battle and perfectly underlining the film's allusions to Moby Dick. His use of the Blaster Beam, an electronic instrument constructed by Craig Huxley, and brought to prominence in the Goldsmith soundtrack for Star Trek: The Motion Picture, provides that heavy 'thwong' sound under the bass notes, nodding back to Goldsmith's equally wonderful score and providing continuity as well as beautifully augmenting the battle scenes in the Mutara Nebula.

The score is also characterised by Horner's then predilection for escalating brass motifs and he powerfully uses this not only to energise the action but also to accompany stunning string sections to provide a romantic flavour to cues such as 'Enterprise Clears Moorings'. The romantic flavour is also carried by the themes for Spock, especially the terrifically moving 'Spock (Dies)' and the beautiful 'Genesis Cave' cue. Its ultimate expression is in 'Amazing Grace', a cue that Horner originally didn't want the bagpipes on but which he turns to his advantage when the music swells into a rich, overwhelmingly moving rendition of the old standard.

Lovingly remastered and restored by the team at Film Score Monthly, this is an essential purchase because it's that rare beast; an original film soundtrack that triumphantly recreates the entire film in the listener's head whilst remaining simply stunning music in its own right. And of course, it's music for what remains as the best entry in the Star Trek film franchise. The CD comes with a great booklet, sporting the iconic Bob Peak poster art, with comments from Horner and director Nicholas Meyer, full of interesting anecdotes and a wealth of stills from the film.

STAR TREK II: The Wrath Of Khan - Original Soundtrack, Newly Expanded Edition (Film Score Monthly / Retrograde - FSM-80128-2 - Released 9th July 2009)

Screen Archives Entertainment

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3 Responses to “STAR TREK: The Wrath Of Khan Original Soundtrack / Newly Expanded Edition”
  1. chas_m says:

    You have really been on a good review roll lately, including this one. Bravo.

  2. Thank you kind man!

    Hopefully, more to come soon.

  3. Keir says:

    Only 28... like a Bernstein or Hermann.
    What a fantastic score; thankfully the film itself did it justice.

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