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Vangelis - Nocturne - The Piano Album CD (album) cover

NOCTURNE - THE PIANO ALBUM

Vangelis

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TCat
COLLABORATOR
Eclectic Team
3 stars Vangelis, one of the pioneers of progressive electronic music, has been putting out albums for quite some time and has a large discography that focuses on varied types of electronic music. There is the straightforward electronic music, some avant garde experimental music, minimalistic, classically influenced, pop, and soundtracks. Among his discography, there is something for everyone.

'Nocturne' is an album released in early 2019 that focuses on the sound of the piano, however, it isn't exactly a solo piano album. The piano is the lead instrument, but it is supported by a lot of lush synthesizers that are also there for support and variety. This is a welcome addition to this album and helps with a fuller feel to the tracks supporting the piano throughout. The tracks are made up of a combination of new material (11 tracks) and new arrangements of past material (6 tracks). In these tracks, we get the first recordings on a studio album of Vangelis on a grand piano. The synths are tastefully done and not overly dramatic, but act as the support. There are also times when effects are used with the piano to create echo effects and changes in timbre.

'Nocturnal Promenade' was the first track released several weeks ago to help announce the new album. It is a nice opener and is a good example of what you will find on this albums. 'To the Unknown Man' is a re-arrangement of the track from the previous album 'Spiral'. This one is even more beautiful and if you are familiar with his past works, you should recognize it easily. 'Movement Nine' is another new arrangement of the track from the album 'Mythodia' and it features a center section where the electronics take over for a short time.

Three tracks original to this album follow. 'Moonlight Reflections' is a very pensive and lovely track, with very minimal support (if any) from electronics in the lower end and some harp effects at the end. 'Through the Night Mist' uses an echo and other effects to help sustain the piano melody and the effects are well used to help create an emotional and lovely piece. 'Early Years' uses more electronics on the melody this time and as it continues it turns into more of a symphonic affair, while the piano plays a supporting role this time and it sounds like one of his older compositions from around the 'Chariots of Fire' stage of his career.

Next is a new arrangement of 'Love Theme (from 'Blade Runner)', one of Vangelis' most popular themes. It is as lovely as you would expect, almost sounding hymn-like, as the piano takes back the lead. 'Sweet Nostalgia' is another original song. This one does seem to fall into the nostalgia trap (to match the title?) in that it seems to be a bit schmaltzy for my taste, but I expected a bit of that. After that, we get the only track on the album that is all electronically produced strings without any piano whatsoever in 'Intermezzo'. It acts simply as the type of track it is named to be, a track placed in the program to bridge the first and second parts of the album.

'To a Friend' starts off the 2nd half of the album with an original track. This has a beautiful and emotional melody, which is all nice, but about now, something with a different tempo would have been nice and it wouldn't take away from the album if done right. However, I would imagine someone interested in this album probably would expect the same romanticism through the album. Next, a new arrangement of a very old Vangelis track follows. This time it is 'La Petite Fille de la Mer' from the album 'L'Apocalypse Des Animaux'. It helps to drive the album along with these new arrangements by inserting more familiar tracks that are more than just unknown sentimental new songs which, without the anchor of familiarity, can start to sound the same especially with initial listens. This is a lovely arrangement in a nice pensive mode. An original track follows with 'Longing'. The effects used on the piano here give it a different and slightly subdued tone.

The one that most people will be looking for as far as a re-arrangement would of course be the 'Chariots of Fire (Main Theme)' and that is what follows. The theme is played by the piano with synth effects following. The performance of the theme is quite pensive and lush, almost making it unfamiliar, but you will pick out the theme. I like the arrangement because it makes it brand new, but familiar. It even takes the melody to a minor key for a short time at one point, which was a nice touch.

Two original tracks follow this. 'Unfulfilled Desire' is very slow and pensive, less melodic and more minimal which would almost become ambient if not for the string effects, which are more dynamic this time. 'Lonesome' has more movement, but remains somewhat pensive. This one seems somewhat inspired by 'Moonlight Sonata' (first movement of course), by Beethoven. The last re-arrangement on the album is another famous work from a soundtrack, '1492: Conquest of Paradise'. Starting out a bit hesitantly, the melody and background develops into a beautiful and rhapsodic song with a lot of emotion. This one is the best of the re-arranged tracks. We finish with an original called 'Pour Melia'. This track is short and acts as a lullaby with the string effects and a music-box style effect carrying the melody.

No doubt this is a beautiful album full of lush and lovely songs inspired by the night. The overall peaceful feeling doesn't change much throughout the album, but there is a nice use of dynamics that lend to creating some emotional passages. There really isn't much here that lends itself to being progressive, but you can't deny that the production and sound is amazing. I would have liked to have heard a few changes in tempo here, and it could have been done without really making it feel out of place, but don't expect to hear anything groundbreaking or with much variation over the spirit of the album. It was a good addition to include the new arrangements here for the sake of familiarity, and they are all done very tastefully. As nice as it all is, though, it doesn't lend itself to being progressive, so only for that reason I have to consider it a good album, but not necessarily excellent. However, Vangelis fans like myself will enjoy it and will be excited about the new material on here.

Report this review (#2121269)
Posted Friday, January 25, 2019 | Review Permalink
admireArt
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars I had the idea of an all solo piano performances release as this Nocturne´s cover art suggests and kind of thought that this approach will simplify Vangelis usually intricate and sugarly powered arrangements to a more even ground but no and no.

This work is, to call it somehow, like a Vangelis semi-unplugged studio project. Yes the piano almost always leads and the modified or new "symphonic" and "electronic" arrangement revolve around it. But do they work as to become a memorable reinterpretations of a selected number of already published pieces (6 tracks) ? Are the new tracks (11) really newflanged in these kind of piano fields? Not really and worse than that few pieces achieve what I thought beforehand and more than once the music writing scratches deep into Vangelis´ultra-corny side which is just like saying too much.

But even if it is not my cup of tea, Vangelis sure has a quiet recognizable self constructed musical language (maybe too much, but all his and that is worth its weight in stars in my book), therefore above the only fan´s and collector´s stars, but really not as good (except for a couple of tracks) as to buy as many 3 stars only albums are.

***3 minus PA´s stars.

Report this review (#2150152)
Posted Wednesday, February 27, 2019 | Review Permalink

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