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D. Roberts | Battle Creek, Michigan United States | 07/30/2002
(4 out of 5 stars)
"In truth, this DVD was not what I was expecting. What I thought I was going to get was something along the lines of the popular (and very well done) STARGAZE DVD (ASIN: B00004VWUF - available @ Amazon.com). I expected various views of the Martian landscape (courtesy of the recent Mars probes) with the music of Vangelis in the background. What I received in the mail was hardly that. In truth, besides a brief speech @ the beginning by an astrophysicist, this video has precious little to do with the NASA Mars mission. Except for a brief view of what looks to be a computerized animation of the Valus Marinarus in movement 6, one would never guess that this production had anything whatsoever to do with Mars.That said, I'm am not implying that this is a bad DVD - it's just not what I surmised it would be. What it IS is a concert given in Greece with a full orchestra, the noteworthy opera singers Jessye Norman and Kathleen Battle, harpists, a full choir and none other than Vangelis himself in the middle of it all. All the while, there is spectacular imagery of ancient Greek and celestial motifs that are sure to dazzle the viewer.The music, while innovative, is not among Vangelis' best works (in my opinion). Aside from the 1st and 3rd movements, the concert is bereft of the vivid, memorable themes for which V is so famous for. Of course, the visual effects certainly enhance the value of the music; I may or may not purchase the CD. As a bonus, there is a full-orchestra rendition of V's popular theme to CHARIOTS OF FIRE at the conclusion of the concert.All in all, this is worth purchasing for all who enjoy audio / visual spectacles once in awhile. I've always had the greatest amount of respect for V, and since he rarely performs in public, a chance to see him in concert is enough to offset the price of the DVD all by itself. For Mars (or perhaps more fittingly, the innate human desire to explore the universe)...For Greece....For Vangelis - if any of these topics interest you, this production is a can't-miss."
Lift-off to DVD Heaven !
quia-nihil-sum | Inverness,Scotland. | 05/27/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Stunning ! I got this about a week ago now and have played it through every evening since then,and I'm still held spellbound by the sound (glorious,by the way) and spectacle (truly a visual feast) of it all. Vangelis's music was the my first audio love in my teenage years and I must profusely thank the late,great Carl Sagan for been the conduit that brought this composing colossus to my attention.I'll never forget how I was absolutely transfixed by the opening theme ("Symphony to the Powers" from "Heaven & Hell") of his wonderful "Cosmos" series,when it aired on the BBC back in 1981,and from been a rather musically indifferent 16 year old,I was immediately transformed into a rabid Vangelis aficionado,who could not get enough of music that was imbued with such deep passion and profundity and yet at the same time touched me on almost a spiritual level.It wasn't until I got heavily into classical music in my mid-20's that I discovered the same intrinsic qualities in things like Bach's Passions,Haydn's Masses,the great Requiem settings and Handel's oratorios.With that kind of cultural hindsight,I understand now that he has inherited much of the qualities that made these composers great.Mind you,I've always felt that Vangelis has the unique way of making you feel that he is taking the very pulse of the Universe through his work and,via his keyboards,liberating themes that have been frozen in time and space for eons.So,you can well imagine that this "Mythodea" of his which marries all that is unique and special in him and allies that to the classical idiom,is sheer serendipity to me and a union made in music Heaven.
The concert setting of the Temple of Zeus in Athens could not be more atmospheric if it tried and those cosmic and Hellenic artefact images projected onto the backdrop are superbly integrated with the music.Whoever edited the footage deserves an oscar,because every fade,cut-away and image-meld is executed with a supremely expert eye and ear,and more than one image will stun you with it's breathtaking beauty.Very well done to all concerned !
Aside from the man himself dominating centre stage at a most imposing keyboard "altar;the other forces involved are the London Metropolitan Orchestra (excellent band,and I'm really developing a crush on the nymph-like harpist,whom the camera obviously loves,and with her partner [they are placed either side of Vangelis] make such an important contribution to the texture of the piece),The National Opera of Greece Choir (bravo ! to you,ladies and gentleman),two timpani ensembles (very dramatic in both a sonic and visual sense) and two sopranos (none other than the world-renowned Jessye Norman and Kathleen Battle;both of whom clearly relish their respective roles,and this constant delight in the gorgeous parts written for them is apparent on their faces throughout ).All these brilliant performers are held on a tight rein by the slim,dapper figure of the conductor Blake Neely who is a most charismatic figure on the podium and his baton seems more akin to a magic wand at times,the way it appears to conjure up musical enchantment at will.Also,kudos to him for a superb orchestral transcription of the original score,that is more than successful in conveying all it's inherent power and majesty. If you come to this work as an established fan of Vangelis,but with no real experience of the classical repertoire;you may struggle to fully appreciate what is so wonderfully achieved here and I strongly recommend that you watch it through at least twice before passing judgement (or hasty reviews to Amazon !) on it.Although not derivative in the least of any single composer's work,I do hear echoes of Haydn in such things as the magnificent "sunrise" (or "water-rise" on Mars,according to the visuals) crescendo that deservedly gets a standing ovation from the audience.Also,the very fine string and woodwind parts summon up the ghosts of Mozart and Berlioz at times.Verdi's robust spirit also hovers near,and in some of the mightily impressive choral sequences,the "Libera me" from his Requiem is easily brought to mind.The ravishing soprano aria executed so perfectly by Jessye Norman in "Movement 6" has echoes of such sacred gems as Schubert's "Ave Maria" and indeed Mythodea as a whole has a very sacred feel about it,and shorn of the Mars connection could easily be perceived as a modern oratorio in every respect,apart from that of scale and a merciful abscence of tedious recitative ! I wonder,could the great man ever be persuaded to set the text of the Latin Mass ? There is a libretto that would fully exploit his talent to the utmost and on the merits of this current outing,with all it's blatant excellence in the writing for instruments,soloists and choir:we have all the necessary elements already in place that make him eminently suited to been just the man who could whip-up a modern,liturgical firestorm.I'll keep my fingers crossed in the meantime and will take heart in the fact that Haydn didn't write his greatest settings of the Mass until his late 60's,and I think I'm right in saying that our Greek maestro doesn't turn 60 until next March.Plenty of time for us to get up our petition to him !
Whatever your background or taste in music;whether new age or classically conservative,I strongly urge you to buy this DVD immediately.In terms of artistic and production values it has set a benchmark that I don't expect to see surpassed anytime soon,and it is wonderful to finally see in action one of the most exciting composers that the planet Earth can boast in the 21st Century.P.S:The single (shame !) encore is marvellous and the shout of recognition that goes up as those oh-so familiar horn motifs sound out is magical ."
Sorry, but I was bored to tears with this one.
Benny Choi | San Francisco, CA USA | 04/16/2002
(2 out of 5 stars)
"I am a big Vangelis fan and I must say I was very disappointed with this DVD. Yes, of course, technically, this was a visually fascinating show and the production values were top notch. But, the music bored me to tears. I listen to Vangelis for powerful synth chords and melodies and raw energy which no other recording artist has emulated. What I got with this production was a simplistic psuedo-opera, chorus plus orchestra playing rather monotonous arrangements. The best part was the Chariots of Fire encore, but it left me hungry for so much more. The worst parts were the press conference segment in the "making of" bonus material, and the astrophysicist introducing the main program. I've worked with real life astrophysicists first hand and I know they could have picked someone more dynamic to speak with better lighting, lens focus, and a more professional looking camera shot. Vangelis is a marvelous musician, composer, and recording artist, who has obviously changed course in his musical tastes. If you're a fan of his early albums like "Heaven and Hell", and his later albums like "Direct", "1492", "Oceanic", "Voices", you will be very disappointed. If you liked "El Greco" (which I recognize now as his turning point, but still felt was brilliant), you will probably enjoy this DVD, as there are common melodies to both. I think I'm going to sell my copy used, it's that disappointing. Two stars - one for the production values, the second for the Chariots of Fire live track. That's it."
Wonderful, Amazing, Brilliant...
Young Seok Park | Seoul, Korea | 03/04/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The concert was so exciting and mesmerising that I couldn't stop watching until it finished. I really liked the new music by Vangelis, a true genius. The picture was great and sound was very clear and magnificient especially on PCM stereo. The stage on Zeus Temple was spectacular. Oh... watching two amazing sopranos, Kathleen Battle and Jessye Norman, was also true pleasure. They made the concert brilliant.
As the previous reviwer mentioned, Vangelis performed "Chariots of Fire" as encore, which is a great bonus.This doesn't contain a liner note, which is inconvenient to know track information. However, it would be easily forgiven because the real content is really fabulous...."
Jerry Snyder | Reading, PA United States | 10/06/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I've had the DVD for a while and finally got the CD. It's thrilling and exciting. It shakes me to the core. It's beautiful.
Jessye Norman and Kathleen Battle here take you to the beyond. Are there words to use to describe what these two singers do during the performance ?
I happened to see Audrey Hepburn's DVD "Gardens of the World with Audrey Hepburn" before seeing the MYTHODEA DVD for the first time. I would recommend viewing it before watching this otherworldly production with its exalted, supernatural background projections. This live concert music happens like a garden happens around you, even though it's been captured for viewing on DVD. The images become the actual things they represent, not just symbols.
If you are receptive and listen and watch attentively, you can experience what people mean when they use the words "god" or the "presence of god" -- the planets, space, the inhabitants of Oympus included.
I know I will listen to this time and time again and benefit every time. Before this DVD, we have only approximated "classic Greek". This really does it, this time ! A frontier crossed for the first time in history, too. Way out.