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Vangelis - Mythodea CD (album) cover



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1 stars Okay, I haven't heard the album, but I did tape the PBS special that was performed live. All I can say is, the transformation is complete: Vangelis has become the other Greek guy with just one name who plays keyboards. All flourishes and bombast, classical pretensions with divas aplenty. Ouch!
Report this review (#34913)
Posted Friday, May 6, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars One of the most brilliant albums produced. Carries one on a journey unparalled, especially Movement 3. At no point do you get lost as to where Vangelis is taking you. Movement 3 is the centre of sadness and loss that could be attributed to not only the the emptiness of space but that of knowledge.
Report this review (#36633)
Posted Thursday, June 16, 2005 | Review Permalink
Chris S
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars ' Mission To Mars'......Mythodea is a highly underrated work from Vangelis. This is Vangelis at his most sophisticated in a classical sense. The music is richly woven with large backdrops of orchestral arrangements. The operatic contributions go one better than his masterpiece El Greco. The only draw back is the music does not quite hold up as well.' Movement I' tends to get tiresome after the first 3 minutes and only then does the album slowly start getting it together. As I say the ladies in the operatic department are incredible. Thank you Vangelis for getting me into operas!! It is in essence another soundtrack album but Vangelis went one step further and created and awkward, complex yet stirringly beautiful piece of work. Three and a half stars.
Report this review (#108975)
Posted Friday, January 26, 2007 | Review Permalink
2 stars I've heard a lot of Vangelis' discography, and it really can be a real hit or miss affair. The guy loves to experiment and sometimes you get gold and sometimes you get a really horrible monster. This one leans to the monster category.

I was expecting something along the lines of the music that was used as the soundtrack for the public TV show, Cosmos. (Hosted by Ca'al Sgngn - his true alien name, [aka Carl Sagan], from what I've heard.)

There is a lot of drama in the music, and maybe if you're a fan of opera, I'm not, there may be some appeal to you. It is a truly symphonic album, but I find it more regressive than progressive. One of those "I probably wouldn't have bought it if I'd heard it first" kind of albums. So get it if you want some "Music for the NASA Mission 2001 Mars Odyssey", which sounded like it could be really appealing to me, but wasn't. But if you're looking for some really good space prog, you might want to look elsewhere first. One of a few albums in my collection I would have liked to listened to first and probably wouldn't have added.

Report this review (#146073)
Posted Saturday, October 20, 2007 | Review Permalink
4 stars I'm not sure what a musicologist would make of this ambitious stab at orchestral composition by Greek keyboard wizard Vangelis, but to this pair of ears (conditioned to classical music from a young age, and never mind how long ago that was) it sounds entirely convincing.

Fans of his early synth-rock workouts ("Heaven and Hell", "Albedo 0.39", "Spiral") will likely be divided in their judgment. Unlike the hybrid classical-rock experiments of the 1970s this is legitimate symphonic music, performed by Vangelis alongside the London Metropolitan Orchestra and National Opera of Greece Choir, and far enough removed from the world of rock 'n' roll to be sold on the Sony Classical label (Rick Wakeman, eat your heart out).

The piece was commissioned as some sort of official soundtrack to the 2001 NASA Mars Odyssey mission (although it isn't acknowledged anywhere on NASA's website for the ongoing Odyssey program). But in truth the music was inspired as much by the ancient myths of Vangelis' homeland, in a conscious attempt to connect the NASA mission to the fabled Odyssey of Homer: hence all the classical imagery on the CD cover, of the Temple of Zeus in Athens and so forth.

As you might expect from an Oscar© winning composer the music is very cinematic, in an epic, widescreen sort of way. The oceanic ebb and flow of orchestra and chorus is sometimes very powerful, often quite beautiful, and never less than impressive. It's pure Vangelis, but you can hear the influence of Carl Orff (I'm thinking of the grandiose fanfares and operatic oratory of the "Carmina Burana"), and of course Gustav Holst ("Op. 32, The Planets": the opening and closing movements here borrow heavily from the rhythmic march of "Mars: the Bringer of War"). And at least one of the many duets between sopranos Kathleen Battle and Jessye Norman recalls the celebrated aria "Viens, Mallika" (the Flower Duet) from the Léo Delibes opera "Lakmé".

It's a little more difficult to pinpoint exactly the electronic keyboards played by Vangelis himself. His various synthesizers are deeply integrated into the larger orchestral fabric, and because he's mostly using a string setting his contributions are even harder to separate from the symphonic whole.

The lack of any space-rock clichés might be unexpected, considering the corporate underwriting by NASA. But altogether this is a refreshing work of rare maturity from an artist looking for new worlds to conquer, and discriminating Progheads (even more than fans of conventional classical music) should be well-equipped to give it the appreciation it deserves.

Report this review (#164115)
Posted Sunday, March 16, 2008 | Review Permalink
Symphonic Team
1 stars Edgar Allan Poe once ended one of his infamous tales with the words... loathesome - of detestable putridity. Perhaps he was reviewing this album...

Vangelis is a genius but here he is overshadowed by the epic majesty of a concept that should have worked but simply does not. His music usually works on many levels and soars and rises with virtuosity but here it is unrecognizable. You can place this in the 'what were they thinking?' category. None of it makes sense musically and it is overblown and really quite pretentious.

The music is tiresome

and annoying

and forgettable.

Yet of course some like the classical epic approach but I wanted Vangelis' synth trademark style.

I hate to admit this but I sent this back where it came from.

If you want Vangelis, get a 'best of' compilation or Blade Runner or the early albums.

Report this review (#215081)
Posted Tuesday, May 12, 2009 | Review Permalink
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.

Report this review (#295136)
Posted Wednesday, August 18, 2010 | Review Permalink
1 stars With « Oceanic » some four years prior to this album, Vangelis offered a rather classical album which couldn't raise my interest. It is just that I have never liked this mix of genres. Actually, I am not a fan of classical music at all.

With this "Mythodea", Vangelis leans more towards the opera style, which is absolutely not my cup of tea either. While "Oceanic" featured the great Caballé, this one leaves the "vocal" part to the National Opera of Greece Choir while the orchestration is due to the London Metropolitan Orchestra. Fair enough?

I can understand that people interested in this type of music might praise this work, but I definitely can't. I have had the same feeling while listening to TD's trilogy (Infernio, Purgatorio and Paradisio). I have never liked these and this Vangelis effort doesn't represent anything better as far as I am concerned.

If you like opera, you might be interested. If you like prog music, there are basically no reason to listen to this. One star. What else?

Report this review (#307253)
Posted Friday, October 29, 2010 | Review Permalink
RIO/Avant/Zeuhl,Neo & Post/Math Teams
3 stars Many years after Mask, Vangelis releases another album divided into "movements". It's dedicated to the Pathfinder's NASA mission to Mars, and the "Introduction", the only track that's not a movement, is promising of spacey things.

"Movement 1" is orchestral with strings and choir. It seems a reprise of Conquest of Paradise, and this makes sense. There's a direct line between Columbus' travel and the space exploration.

"Movement 2" is opened by low volume percussions, then the choir sings with no music else than a little keyboard background. The choir arrangement is the most remarkable thing of this track that doesn't give the idea of travels into space. Looking for "travellers", this is more reminding to Ulysses and Odyssey, specially in the second part of the track when it becomes more "solar" and "Mediterranean".

"Movement 3" starts with harp (I don't know if it's a real harp or a keyboard. It seems more the second). A soprano sings over it, then enters a second soprano. The melody is dark and spacey, and when the choir enters we are transported to the starship.

"Movement 4" is the longest track. The first orchestral notes have something of Rimsky- Korsakov's Sheherazade, but that's a suite. Here we have the two sopranos who make the transition to the orchestral part. Looking at the definition of post-rock on PA I think this could be called post-classical. The melodies and the ambience are typically Vangelis' stuff but the orchestra, the choir and the two soprano make it sound like symphonic music. Try to imagine the sopranos replaced by a subtle keyboard and you'll have a space-rock composition.

"Movement 5" is unfortunately not too different from what we have heard until now. Here, if you are not a fan of classical music or opera it can start to be a bit boring. This is a kind of music that is better appreciated live, when the music is wrapped around the listener. One can't be bored in that situation. However, this track is a little darker than the previous.

"Movement 6" is a slow piece of opera, likely inspired by Italian authors of end 19th century with the instrumental part on the chords of Mahler or Schubert, just as reference.

"Movement 7" sees the return of electronics, but the story doesn't change. At this point I can't see a reference to Mars, also because I can't understand what the sopranos say (if they say anything). This part is more symphonic and a bit more rhythmated. One of the best tracks.

"Movement 8" partially looses the classical mood. The soprano and the choir here sing on a "normal" Vangelis composition on which the keyboard is initially in the foreground respect to the orchestra.

"Movement 9" is a song. In the sense that the melody and the structure are more regular and only the instruments used and the sopranos maintain the classical mood. 1492 again.

"Movement 10" reprises the initial theme. Now it's clear what's the problem with this album. It's too long. The tracks from Movement 4 to Movement 8 are almost the same track. This one with percussions and keyboards is between 1492 and Heave and Hell, plus with the last minute occupied by spacey sounds.

"Movement 11" is just another run of Movement 1 and Movement 10. Only for closure.

It's a pity that Vangelis has indulged so much with some parts of this "opera". It had the possibilities to be a great album, but it's weak in the middle part and sometimes too repetitive. The classical and operistic mood doesn't make it suitable for prog-metallers, so at the end I think the correct rating is three stars.

Report this review (#383884)
Posted Friday, January 21, 2011 | Review Permalink

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