Film Score Friday: ‘The Music of Battlestar Galactica for Solo Piano’ by Bear McCreary and Joohyun Park

Last week we looked at a new arrangement for a classic score, this week we are again taking a look at another new take on some familiar tunes. Unlike The Lord of the Rings Symphony, which was basically an awesome mix-tape of Shore’s scores, The Music of Battlestar Galactica for Solo Piano is a complete re-imagining of the music from the series.

The tracks on this 2-disc set are all arranged by McCreary and performed by talented Korean pianist Joohyun Park, who brings a new perspective to the music. The songs were all originally written for large orchestras, but the these arrangements and  Joohyun Park’s expert performance take these tracks to a new and interesting place.

Conceptually I love the concept of taking popular orchestral scores and arranging them for solo piano. Not only is it often very pleasant to listen too, but it also encourages people to show interesting in playing and eventually making music themselves. If one person, with practice and time, can play film and TV music all by themselves, you drastically increase the likelihood new talent will choose the life of a multimedia composer.

Unfortunately I just don’t think this album as a whole works. The individual tracks are all very nice, and some are quite great, but over two discs it just doesn’t have enough variety. I love the music of Battlestar, it is emotional, unique and evocative of the complex layers the show presented. These piano versions just don’t have that same texture. I think this music could have been pared down to three or four great tracks instead of two full discs. In fact I would adore a collection of multiple Bear McCreary scores given this solo piano treatment.

But what the album lacks in variety, it makes up a lot of ground on beauty and expert piano playing. The album sort of runs together when listening to it from track to track, but you are more than happy to have it play though several songs because of the beautiful piano play. I think as accent music, this stuff is perfect.

Three Favorite Tracks:

Roslin and Adama by Bear McCreary: The very first track, and a perfect way to start an album like this. The music is immediately recognizable as Battlestar Galactica, and it is one of the more perfect tracks in this solo piano form. The music is simple, but profound and as beautiful as you expect. Easily one of the best tracks on the album.

Something Dark Is Coming by Bear McCreary: This was the first and only track I needed to stop and check the track to make sure I was listening to what I though I was listening to. This doesn’t sound much like Battlestar, but deep down it reveals the raw emotional core of Bear’s typically complex scores. It is raw emotion played in a lonely piano solo, and I adore it. This and the next track alone ensured the final score for this album will be on the positive side of the spectrum.

Kara Remembers by Bear McCreary: This is perfect. Easily my favorite track on the collection. In my mind when some one tells me I am about to listen to Battlestar Galactica music for Solo Piano, this is what my brain imagines I will be listening to. Only one small issue, it isn’t actually a solo piano peice. It was arranged and written to be played with four hands, and as such Bear himself is also playing on the track.

Least Favorite Track:

Battlestar Operatica by Bear McCreary: This track is odd, it features a singer with the piano. A very talented opera singer, but for me, adding in opera sounds to this solo piano listening experience just doesn’t fit. Something about the big sound of the opera with the soft, almost subtle sounds of the piano just don’t mesh with me.

At the end of the day, I applaud the concept. There is some amazing music in this collection, and hearing a new side of an established sound is always a treat. However, I really don’t know that this release needed to be two discs, and the entire piece lacks a unifying cohesion.

Final Score for The Music of Battlestar Galactica for Solo Piano:

3 out of 5

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