on November 27, 2002
My first exposure to Vangelis was the soundtrack to "Blade Runner". "Blade Runner" was an incredible movie. Coupled with the soundtrack, "Blade Runner" became a science fiction fan's dream of how well done a science fiction movie can be.
In the tradition of "Blade Runner", Vangelis has created another stunning soundtrack that doesn't need the movie to support its musical theme. Put another way, if you did not know this CD was a soundtrack from a movie, there is nothing from the music that would tell you.
The music is classified as "New Age", which is a bit of a stretch. I understand it can be difficult to classify someone like Vangelis, who uses synthesizers in combination with cameos by several other instruments and vocal performances when required to create a work that sounds more like a full orchestra versus a guy with a bunch of keyboards and a mixing board. There are many places Vangelis could fit, but instead of trying to classify Vangelis, and this CD, just listen to it.
The keyboards give you a feel of renaissance, and yet the very nature of synthesizers makes the CD feel modern. Listening to "Conquest of Paradise", as an example, I felt a trace of Ennio Morricone's compositions for the spaghetti westerns of the 60s, with more than a flavor of Russian folk music, and enough soaring synthesizer and vocals to make a incredible song, best played loudly on a mellow day. Later, "City of Isabel" has a late middle age flavor, something that would have fit into a castle setting.
"Light and Shadow" is ominous, with religious and gothic overtones. As the music progresses, the overtones recede to the background as flutes provide the upbeat hope of light being shined into the shadows. Later, the ominous overtones mix with the flute to give you the sense that while there is dark, there is hope.
The beginning of "West Across the Sea" reminds me of Walter Carlos' moog synthesizer compositions. Then the tone changes, shifting into a more classical work. A perfect example of how this music refuses to stay in one place long enough to be definitively classified.
Vangelis' music is something that can be an acquired taste. Furthermore, while there is a certain similarity between his albums, over time there has been sufficient variation that you can't judge one by all the others. I think this music is ideal for someone who likes classical music and progressive rock. If you enjoy traditional classical music such as Dvorak and Stravinsky, and you also like groups like Yes, The Moody Blues, and King Crimson, then this album will likely appeal to you.
on April 28, 2000
As a contemporary of Tangerine Dream, it was too much of a temptation to lump him among the early Electronica movement. As a friend and frequent collaborator of Yes' Jon Anderson, some called him Progressive. Since New Age star Yanni has a sound that is clearly derivative (if less creative), Vangelis even wound up in the New Age section of some record stores. The truth is that he's none of the above--that's why he's survived all these years. He was neither the beneficiary of any of the hype that came with the boom in these genres, nor did he get carted out with the trash when their trendiness waned. What we have is a neoclassicist--music history will remember Vangelis as a pioneer in the introduction of high tech into classical. As it should be with any well-rounded composer, he has never totally centered on a single instrument--in his case, the synthesizer. Although synths are clearly present in this album (as they always have been on everthing he's released), it's obvious that he has a grasp on many other instruments. I don't so much think of Vangelis as a genre brother of Jean Michel Jarre as much as I see him as a descendent of Tchaikovsky or Beethoven. His music-the entire body of work over the decades--is, as an old Tom Petty number says; "built to last".
on January 14, 1999
"Chariots of Fire", "Antarctica" and "Blade Runner" were three of the most memorable soundtracks of the 80's. How Vangelis manages to be so consistently good is something of a mystery, but with "1492" he does it again: this is one of the most memorable soundtracks of the 90's. The title track is sheer brilliance, with its eminently hummable central melody and rousing, dramatic vocals. The melody is revisited towards the end of the album ("Twenty Eighth Parallel"), while the vocally rich intervening tracks range from darkly atmospheric ("Monastery of La Rabida", "Light and Shadow") to soft and ethereal ("Deliverance, "West Across the Ocean Sea").
The album's transition from the dark ambience of low-pitched vocals ("Conquest of Paradise") to the higher pitch of piano melodies ("Pinta, Nina, Santa Maria") produces in the listener a sense of having been taken on a journey. This is precisely what one would hope for in a soundtrack that parallels Columbus's sea voyage. The tracks flow effortlessly into one another to create a rare and deeply evocative musical experience.
Although the title track is available on compilation albums such as "Portraits", only the full album can produce the full experience. "1492" is one of Vangelis's best works, and I strongly recommend it.
on November 20, 2011
This is a beautifully produced CD. It was recommended to me by a friend 15 years ago or so, and I have been listening to it ever since. There are some truly soaring passages, some more moody, some inspiring, some tense, but all very well recorded with a splash of background vocals from time to time. I listen to this while marking homework or doing hobbies. I have two copies, just in case the first ever 'wears out' or becomes out of print. It is that good.
on September 14, 2003
1492 is one of the Vangelis soundtracks that will live on longer than his own name. Conquest Of Paradise is undoubtedly his most recognised piece of music, leaving behind even the End Titles from Blade Runner (also a Ridley Scott - Vangelis co-venture) or any of his numerous non-film-music compositions.
Preparing and producing his tale of the famous medieval explorer, Ridley Scott knew he wanted the music to connect the modern viewer with the 15th-century setting. Vangelis was from that point of view the only right choice for composer.
Speaking from a film-score perspective, Vangelis' approach is unique. There is no other composer who combines synthesizer, acoustic orchestra and choir as fluently and powerful as Mr Papthanassiou does. It is a unique and overwhelming sound - tranquil and exhilarating at once. Despite the music largely being dreamy - without obvious narrative structures or changes in pace - it creates a perfect, almost nostalgic, thoughtful mood for each scene.
The famed Main Titles aside, highlights on the album are: the regal choirs of Hispanola, the guitar of Moxica And The Horse and the gentleness of Twenty Eighth Parallel.
There can nothing structurally be said against the quality of this music. The only reason for not liking this soundtrack would be not liking Vangelis' style broadly. If that is so, this album will not convince you of the contrary.
For the other-opinionated of the world: along with Blade Runner, this is a Vangelis album worth your money and time.
From me, this one gets four stars.
on October 8, 2002
I picked up this soundtrack at a used CD shop recently and I was a little skeptical before putting the disc in the player due to the fact that I am not at all familiar with Vangelis and his music. (Except "Chariots of Fire") The first time I listened to it, I didn't really like it because it's not really my type of music, but the second time, I took a whole new perspective on it. It's a great soundtrack. The main theme "Conquest of Paradise" is truly a great theme and resembles "Chariots of Fire". It's complete with synthesizers played by Vangelis himself and an English Chamber Choir. The bad thing is the theme is unheard until the 11th track "Twenty Eighth Parallel", which is almost at the end of the soundtrack. I wish it would have been featured more because it's that good. I am not a huge fan of electronic music, but the music on this soundtrack sounds great. It's relaxing and takes you in. The remaining score contains new age type music with some spanish guitar and voices, a mandolin, a violin, flutes, the choir, and of course, Vangelis. I hope to see more of Vangelis composing for film, since he doesn't do much of that anymore. If you like new age music, you will absolutely love this. I didn't give it 5 stars because the awesome theme was underused. Had the theme been used more often, 5 stars would have been my rating. If questioning about getting this soundtrack, get it and you'll be glad you did.
on February 1, 2002
Too bad Vangelis gets lumped in with New Age music. The bland new age selection all sound the same until you come across Vangelis, at which time you realize you are listening to a timeless composer whose works cannot be categorized by anything less than 'classic.'
Without even seeing 1492, Vangelis tells you the story of Columbus' journey. He takes you from Medieval courts, into the pure mystery and terror and excitement of uncharted waters, to the innocence of the New World, to the sad consequences of cultures clashing, to Columbus' redemption in the form of his legacy, which, despite all debate about Columbus, embodies the optimistic human qualities of courage, quest for knowledge, and hope.
This music is relaxing, inspiring, and thought provoking. It's the kind of music to which you can just sit down and listen and be entertained by the emotions and visions it draws from you. I recommend any and all music fans to purchase this album. As you can see from the customer comments on this page, it's listened to and enjoyed by people all over the world, which points to the universal power and appeal of Vangelis' music.
-- JJ Timmins
on September 5, 2001
This CD is simply magnificent. A friend of mine turned me on to Vangelis, and I started collecting his music religiously. I have always had a thing for soundtracks as well. However, I always want to see the movie first before I buy the soundtrack, so that I can have something to imagine while I'm listening to the music.
My friend kept urging me to get this CD, but I hadn't seen the movie, and I was having trouble mustering the desire to, from what I've heard about it. Finally, he just bought it for me. I listened, and I've been hooked ever since.
What a combination of mood and majesty. The music just washes over you, giving you a sense of the explorer that Columbus was, voyaging out into the unknown. I could listen to this CD over and over again. Vangelis has the ability to draw out many emotions in the listener, to make the listener see images in the mind.
I could see the adventure, I could see the fear and the excitement of the strange new world that they had discovered. The music lifts you up and then brings you back to earth.
I still haven't seen the movie, but I sometimes feel like I have after listening to this CD. It's well worth it.
on June 25, 2001
From Volos, Greece, was born Evanghelos Odysseus Papathanassiou. At the age of six he gave his first "performance" of music. Having refused most formal training, he learned according to a style all his own, claiming that the conventional methods of teaching music could only serve to confine him to reproducing what has already been done... rather than allow him to break free and develop new ground. With the release of 1492: Conquest of Paradise, Vangelis once again proves his assertion to be correct... He humbly responds to the question of what his purpose is, as a composer, in the liner notes of his groundbreaking 1988 release "Direct", simply stating, "I function as a channel through which music emerges from the chaos of noise."
1492 is a perfect example of the seamless integration that IS, despite purist beliefs, possible between electronic music and acoustic as well as vocal instrumentation. What you will encounter in this album, like the masterpieces that followed (Voices, Oceanic and his magnum opus, El Greco-which he recorded to help the Athens Museum raise funds to purchase the works of Domenikos Theotocopoulos aka El Greco)... is a sound like no other. I regret that people have to categorize him as New Age... lumping him in with amateurish composers such as Yanni, John Tesh, and Enya (yes, even Enya cannot be in the same league... especially given the repetitiveness of her last three albums). Their music is riddled with pre-sequenced loops, which, while worthwhile and perhaps even melodic... does not deserve to stand in the same ROOM as the multitextured compositions that Vangelis constructs from the ground up within the secluded confines of Epsilon Lab, his Paris studio... He records with the greatest degree of spontaneity, using no sequencers, with no ability to actually read written music, and yet done so with a result that is astonishingly reminiscent of classical composers, except with the added versatility of synthesizers.
His visionary efforts experimenting with multitextural compositions, even prior to the existence of polyphonic/multitimbral synthesizers, have inspired many to try to follow in his footsteps. However, he always seems to remain ahead of the masses. In a few days, he will be performing live from the Temple of Zeus in Athens, works from his upcoming album, Mythodea... which will serve as the soundtrack to NASA's 2001: Mars Odyssey, to be released later this year on Sony Classical, from what I understand.
As a musician myself, I set Vangelis as my benchmark in all respects... above everything, he is the one person who truly stands apart as moving to the beat of his own drum... However, he has nearly half a century on me in experience!
1492 will take you places that no other composer can... as have most of his works done for me. I recommend it... and I also recommend moving backwards and forwards through the Vangelis "timeline" to experience the various stages of his experimentation that is never-ending. There are many aspects of the signature "Vangelis sound" that keep reappearing through various works ranging from Heaven and Hell to Chariots of Fire, BladeRunner, 1492, The City, Oceanic and El Greco... to name hardly 1/5th of his repertoire. Tracks on 1492 such as Moxica and the Horse, the Main Titles, and Into Eternity (especially this one) are just a few examples of his ability to transport you elsewhere... whether it's another place, or time, or directly into the mind and heart of Vangelis' emotions.
...give this man his OWN category... New Age is horrendously bland compared to this man's range of work!
on January 20, 2001
Ordinarily, one would not think that an electronic sountract would be appropriate for a movie which takes place 500 years ago. However, in the masterful hands of Vangelis, one cannot fathom this soundtrack being done any other way.
The music for this film brings out the the most poignant aspects of Columbus' audacious journey. The glory & honor of exploring, as well as the feeling of an almost morose fear of unknown waters, are all visualized trenchently via Vangelis' music. Crossing the Atlantic has become so commonplace nowadays that it is difficult for us to conceive of it as being anything extraordinary. Vangelis' score takes us back to a time when "Nina" "Pinta" and "Santa Maria" were the only ships to have travelled that far west, ever (with the exception of Leif Erickson). Truly Columbus & his men were the pioneers of trans-Atlantic travel (even though they did not end up where they planned).
I would recommend this CD to just about everyone - even if they have not seen the movie (although I would also urge people to watch the film, as well). This album is a melodious blend of Renaissance and New Age magic!