Whatever happened to the future? It's a compelling question, one that can't help coming to mind when one addresses some of the forceful music on this anthology of concert music by film-scoring legend Jerry Goldsmith. The star attraction here is a modern LSO-London Voices recording of Christus Apollo
, the cantata Goldsmith fashioned from sci-fi master Ray Bradbury's epic 1969 poem that fused the idealism of the first moon landing with ruminations about human evolution and Christ visiting other galaxies. While Bradbury's prose (narrated here with appropriate gravitas by actor Anthony Hopkins) occasionally lapses from pondering to ponderous and never quite escapes the shadow of Kubrick's/Clarke's even more cosmologically/philosophically oblique 2001: A Space Odyssey
, Goldsmith's music imparts a sense of drama and purpose to the text that seems to span centuries.
Using a then-chic dodecaphonic technique, the composer applies his mastery of color and dynamics to ensure that the music never lapses into tone-row clichés, invoking the medieval as often as the futuristic. But even if Goldsmith now admits the 12-tone system has become an ironic anachronism, it detracts nothing from the dark, rhythmic fury of the 1970 "Music for Orchestra" that opens the set. It's music with sonic parallels to some of the composer's great sci-fi scores: Planet of the Apes, Alien, et al. The disc's "Fireworks" bookend (written for Goldsmith's 1999 debut concert series with the L.A. Philharmonic) gratifyingly displays a composer who's embraced postmodernism with similar zeal. Brassy flourishes lead to a pulsing, colorful piece of program music that celebrates the musician's Los Angeles roots and heritage. --Jerry McCulley