Ever since the reimagined Battlestar Galactica hit the airwaves as a full series, the music of Bear McCreary has been a huge part of the show, and for some people it’s become as big a part of the show as anything else that appeared on screen.
McCreary has gone from strength to strength with the score, and the relationship that he has with his fans has managed to provide a lot of products that might not otherwise have ever been made. The Battlestar Galactica Solo Piano book was one such item that was released and, on the back of the success and fan reaction to the book, this week sees the release of an album entitled The Music of Battlestar Galactica for Solo Piano. The music on the album is all composed and arranged by Bear McCreary himself and performed by Joohyun Park with a guest appearance on “Kara Remembers”. The tune does require four hands, after all.
I have to admit that a few times while listening to this album, I did go back to the “original” albums to compare and contrast as if this album was just an album of cover versions of pieces of music that I already knew and loved. That was a mistake. This isn’t an album that should be compared to what came before; it can stand entirely on its own merits.
Some of the tunes do sound very similar to their multi-instrument kin and that familiarity provides a sort of safety with this album, but where McCreary really takes the big risks, and succeeds brilliantly, is with tracks like “Apocalypse” and “Wander My Friends”. “Apocalypse,” in particular, is thrilling to listen to as Park works the piano to make it sound like more than the sum of its keys and make the aggressive passages sound enormous.
The piano is an instrument of dichotomy, and it’s as much associated with sleazy bars and lounges as it is with concert halls and orchestras. But I’ve always thought that the piano, in the right hands, is an instrument of great beauty and elegance. And that’s really the best way I can describe this two-disc album: beautiful and elegant. Some of the tracks work so well on their own that you’d have to wonder why anything was ever added to them, and indeed the version of “Wander My Friends” at the start of the album is one of the most moving pieces of music that I’ve heard in a long time.
Though this is the most basic version of the Battlestar Galactica themes and tunes that you’re ever likely to hear, these “simplified” versions still represent an intellect and emotion that is missing from most mainstream television shows.
For me, the highlights of the album are “Wander My Friends” and “The Shape of Things To Come”, which is to say that they stand out on what I think is an album full of highlights. “Wander My Friends” in particular is a track that make me (as Kara Thrace puts it) feel happy and sad all at the same time.
I just hope that someone can convince McCreary to release a piano solo version of “All Along The Watchtower”. If anyone can do it, he can.
- “Roslin and Adama” (3:08)
- “Wander My Friends” (4:50)
- “Passacaglia” (4:55)
- “The Shape of Things to Come” (2:47)
- “Dreilide Thrace Sonata #1” (5:14)
- “Elegy” (3:44)
- “Battlestar Sonatica” (5:10)
- “A Promise to Return” (3:46)
- “Allegro” (4:20)
- “Pegasus” (3:24)
- “Battlestar Muzaktica” (3:20)
- “Prelude To War” (8:02)
- “Battlestar Operatica” (3:02)
- “Worthy of Survival” (3:59)
- “Something Dark Is Coming” (6:19)
- “Violence and Variations” (7:46)
- “Resurrection Hub” (3:09)
- “Kara Remembers” (4:15)
- “Apocalypse” (7:14)
8. Wander My Friends (simplified) (4:53)
9. Roslin and Adama (simplified) (3:04)