1492 Conquest of Paradise
Scored as a soundtrack for the film of the same title, Conquest of Paradise tells the emotional story of Christopher Columbus, his legendary voyage across the Atlantic Ocean and his discovery of the Americas. Perhaps one of the first generations of modern Europeans, Columbus and his crew are now world famous as explorers and pioneers into a new world.
Pipes from tribal origins matched with wooden sounding percussion open the score as a harp sound delicately illuminates the composition. A short and artistic piece, merely a run-up for what is due to play next. The title track and number two on the listings was used as a socialist song for a Portuguese political party who went on to win their election. The pseudo Latin chanting and moving piano melody perhaps stirring the patriot in anyone who cares, choral shifts of tone into brief epic movements affirm any notion of pride that has been kindled.
Monastery of La Rabida brings the intensity down to a more manageable dose, but regains the beautiful edge that was so poignant from the more resounding previous number. Cool tempo and musical tides allow the feeling to linger on until the mood is shifted like a scene in a film not confined to real time. City of Isabel is somewhere new and majestic, stringed instruments gratify a sense of inner nostalgia for the medieval city landscape, stone buildings and horses tied to wooden bars. Light and Shadow takes this further again, reinventing the choral voices for a new setting, a deep and dark element hides gently behind emotional pourings of magical sounding words.
West Across the Sea symbols the half way mark in the story and the album too, and the composer has taken an opportunity to make the dualistic experience of the film slide nicely into the workings of his accompanying soundtrack. Moving away from the familiar and into the unknown, using electronic music as a backbone for a classical sounding album, maybe Vangelis felt a bit like Columbus venturing into uncharted and possibly dangerous waters and beyond.
For music, the album is exciting and dynamic. As a story, it definitely speaks in feelings and for the lack of identifiable words, the match-up to self could take many forms. Working together like this has perhaps allowed both composer and director to unify their talents to create something eternal, and beyond the reach of human hands. The record sales of the day told the real story, with hundreds of thousands being sold in many countries.
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