Title - 'Nocturne: The Piano Album'
Artist - Vangelis
For those not in the know, Evángelos Odysséas Papathanassiou, known professionally as Vangelis, is a Greek musician and composer of electronic, progressive, ambient, jazz, and orchestral music.
He is best known for his Academy Award-winning score to Chariots of Fire, also composing scores for the films Blade Runner, Missing, Antarctica, The Bounty, 1492: Conquest of Paradise, and Alexander, and the use of his music in the PBS documentary Cosmos: A Personal Voyage by Carl Sagan.
Vangelis began his career working with several popular bands of the 1960s such as the Forminx and Aphrodite's Child, with the latter's album 666 going on to be recognized as a progressive-psychedelic rock classic.
Throughout the 1970s, Vangelis composed music scores for several animal documentaries, including L'Apocalypse des Animaux, La Fête sauvage and Opéra sauvage; the success of these scores brought him into the film scoring mainstream.
In the early 1980s, Vangelis formed a musical partnership with Jon Anderson, the lead singer of progressive rock band Yes, and the duo went on to release several albums together as Jon & Vangelis.
In 1981, he composed the score for the Oscar-winning film Chariots of Fire, for which he won an Academy Award for Best Original Score. The soundtrack's single, the film's "Titles" theme, also reached the top of the American Billboard Hot 100 chart and was used as the background music at the London 2012 Olympics winners' medal presentation ceremonies.
Vangelis also received acclaim for his synthesizer-based soundtrack for the 1982 film Blade Runner.
Having had a career in music spanning over 50 years and having composed and performed more than 50 albums, Vangelis is considered to be one of the most important figures in the history of electronic music.
Fascinated by space and having previously collaborated with NASA, Vangelis, the godfather of electronic music, releases a new album inspired by nighttime, Nocturne: The Piano Album (out now via Decca Classics).
1. 'Nocturnal Promenade'
2. 'To the Unknown Man'
3. 'Mythodea – Movement 9'
4. 'Moonlight Reflections'
5. 'Through the Night Mist'
6. 'Early Years'
7. 'Love Theme' (From Blade Runner)
8. 'Sweet Nostalgia'
10. 'To a Friend'
11. 'La petite fille de la mer' (From L’Apocalypse des animaux)
12. 'Longing' (From Blade Runner)
13. 'Main Theme' (From Chariots of Fire)
14. 'Unfulfilled Desire'
16. 'Conquest of Paradise (From 1492: Conquest of Paradise)'
17. 'Pour Melia'
Also inclusive of solo piano versions of his best-loved hits - including the Chariots of Fire, 1492: Conquest of Paradise and Blade Runner themes - the tracks were initially released digitally at nightfall throughout the winter; tying in with moon cycles and key events in the astronomical calendar.
In truth, and not only because I'm a huge Vangelis fan, let alone also being a true devotee of the night, I've been awaiting this album with giddy glee!
This is a very welcome interpretation from Vangelis of some of his own best-known works. I would go so far as to say that each piece is almost an entirely new composition simply by how it's performed on the piano.
They're at once soothing and dramatic. The presentation is strong and precise, perhaps overly so, tending to lean towards mechanical, but that is a matter of personal taste.
As with the collection of new nocturnal tracks, the engineering, too, is slightly exaggerated on the high end, bordering on harsh at times. But, as noted, depending on how revealing your system is, you may find it a little fatiguing over time.
So, what we have here is majestic electronic music in a slower tempo, great sounds abounding, and all powered by the back bone of a piano. Lest we forget that this is not a symphonic orchestra arrangement of his compositions for synthesizers, it is music and arrangement composed and played by the maestro on the classic grand piano.
Song after song I felt more and more engaged, in tune with this wonderful piece of work. It's different, for sure, and not your typical Vangelis album.
But even the masters have to expand their musical horizons and fly freely from within their own comfort zones, don't they.
That said, 'Nocturnal Promenade' kicks things off and will - as a fan- instantly have you scratching your head and wondering what is happening here. But sooner than later the genius of Vangelis comes flowing, ebbing through and you know you're in for an incredible experience.
Even though 'Through the Night Mist' (as an example) has the Vangelis signature sound all over from the off, it's also got a wickedly stoic bass line that squares up perfectly against his known work.
Indeed, it could easily fit perfectly on L'Apocalyse des animaux or Opera sauvage; in my humble opinion.
Amazon Purchase Link