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Vangelis - Mythodea CD (album) cover




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2.75 | 81 ratings

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5 stars I am going out on a limb on this one, and I will say it first. This is the best thing Vangelis has done. He has transcended himself in all ways as a composer, if not as a performer. Vangelis has largely abandoned the electronic nature of almost all his music to date for the sake of this, essentially a classical composition. Synthesizers are nearly absent, only appearing in the Introduction and the finale, Movement 10, which is really a reprise of the Introduction. As expected with such a project, there are no real song titles, only the designation of movements which run from slightly over three minutes in length to almost fourteen, with the average being between five and six. Here we have the London Metropolitan Orchestra conducted by Blake Neely, The National Opera of Greece Choir, and two of operas great sopranos, Kathleen Battle and Jessye Norman. To have both here is quite the coup. The music itself is reminiscent of Mahler and Carl Orff ? it is dense and powerful, even in the adagio sections (Vangelis keeps the context away from strict classical by not providing these kinds of descriptions).

Movement One is homage to Mars, the God of War from Holst's The Planets. The orchestra drives a heavy beat and the choir bombasts us. The sopranos do not appear until Movement Two or Three, but after that, they pretty much take over. It may seem that the progression of music could not adequately follow up the beginning, but it does. Vangelis takes us first through the mythology of Mars and then into the space exploration of the planet. The piece is the official music for the NASA 2001 Mars Odyssey Mission. Vangelis' took on the task of presenting both the mythological elements of Mars and the scientific. All in all, the music for both is grand and moving. The center of whole piece lies in Movement 4, clocking in at 13:42, where a crescendo, drawn out for two whole minutes, moves us from one sphere to the other. After this, the music gets more expansive, expressing the vastness of space, as opposed to the earlier movements which are rife with dynamics and oppositions. Not to say that the second half is not grand, for it is, but it is here that melody plays a greater role than in the first half which emphasizes rhythm.

Even though I regard it as his best, it is not my favorite. The depth and the complexity is outstanding, and the score for orchestra demonstrates a command of music that is not present in previous recordings where Vangelis plays virtually all instruments, most of which are keyboards. Vangelis has moved beyond performer and writer to composer here, a grade he has always aspired to, and in my opinion succeeded in. Here, though, he has outdone himself. This is a piece that transcends the electronic era; that can be performed on acoustic instruments like any other truly classical piece. The same may be said of some of his other work, but as we have seen with the symphonic version of Blade Runner, any result would likely be unsatisfactory because of Vangelis' delicate handling of tone and mood. Here tone and mood, and everything else, is designed for the orchestra. Though I myself regard this as the culmination of his career so far, evidently many fans might be put- off by the symphonic nature of it, berating its lack of electronics. But then again, Vangelis has always been an adventurous composer. The eclecticism of his output demonstrates that. And so here again he is stretching out and expanding his oeuvre. Would that more musicians were more like this: experimenting with success. I await with great anticipation to see if he can exceed himself after this one.

Progosopher | 5/5 |


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