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The Music of Battlestar Galactica for Solo Piano

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Album Review

Bear McCreary's work for the revamped Battlestar Galactica (2004-2009) and its associated movies and spin-offs (Razor, The Plan, Caprica) was a refreshing mix of orchestral arrangements, slick electric guitar riffage, and a range of ethnic influences (Gaelic, Indian, Japanese, Middle Eastern) that reflected the mixture of humanity aboard the Galactica. Pieces from the series are presented on The Music of Battlestar Galactica for Solo Piano — played with respect and restraint by South Korean pianist Joohyun Park — without all the trappings and atmosphere of the series' score. The tone remains contemplative and mostly delicate, with Park faithfully playing solo pieces that McCreary had composed for a Battlestar piano book (and accompanying YouTube tutorials). The Berklee-trained Park creates, at times, an almost relaxing take on a score that was rousing and thrilling on the television series. Without the full orchestral arrangements, the intensity is muted. This is mainly comforting dinner party music, not songs to which one would charge into space battle. The Adama family theme, "Wander My Friends," is presented in two versions (the one on the second disc is "simplified") and retains a warmth and beauty vital to the central father-son story in the series. "Roslin and Adama" — another, arguably more important, core relationship of the show — is also presented in a regular/simplified pairing as well. Elsewhere, "The Shape of Things to Come" lifts the mood with pretty trills and a swirling melody that captivates just as much as the original, while the tense "Prelude to War" is just as urgent as a space battle. While the collection remains mostly relaxed and pleasant, there are glimmers of excitement (as much as one could expect on a solo piano album): "Kara Remembers" — a duet between Park and McCreary — could never be as edge-of-your-seat as Starbuck's climactic breakthrough, but with four hands pounding the keys at the same time, it comes close. "Apocalypse" is (fittingly) another epic, frakking banger. To lighten the mood, fans will appreciate "Battlestar Operatica," which features a soaring solo by Melanie Henley Heyn sung in Italian, which playfully pokes fun at the tragic relationship between Baltar and his lovely Cylon amore, Six. While Park's interpretation of McCreary's vision is both beautiful and lush, this is primarily for hardcore fans of the show. Full orchestral soundtracks exist already, but for those fans who can't bear the intensity of reliving the epic drama of the original series, this is a nice, more plaintive option for their space show fix. ~ Neil Z. Yeung, Rovi

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