Decca Records, 2000

REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen


Here in the halls of the Pierce Memorial Archives, there is a group of people who occasionally drop in to see what new goodies I've received in the mail. Sometimes, they don't recoil in disgust - I consider that to be a good day.

One of these people, Carmen, came in the other day, and I happened to flip the soundtrack to Gladiator her way to look at. (I had just re-discovered I had this disc.) She looked at it and said, "I just saw the movie, and I absolutely loved the music!"

I can't claim to have seen the movie (gimme a break, I've got property taxes to worry about now), but I have to agree with Carmen: the music that is featured on this soundtrack is breathtaking, even if it's a little too quiet at times.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

This work, created by Hans Zimmer and former Dead Can Dance member Lisa Gerrard, is so powerful that the music could actually stand on its own without the benefit of the Ridley Scott film. If you've ever wondered what classical music would sound like in the 21st Century, this is it - and it's insanely beautiful.

Normally, I'm not crazy when musical works segue into one another - but in the case of Gladiator, this works well. It almost allows for a natural ebb and flow of the music, allowing the listener to experience the entire gamut of emotions that one can experience listening to music. From the gentle build of "Progeny" and "The Wheat" to the full-force onslaught of "The Battle," Zimmer and Gerard seem to know the right moments to steer the listener's thoughts and feelings.

That said, there are a few times when I wish the volume of the mix had been cranked up just a little bit. On the more fully orchestrated pieces like "Barbarian Horde" and "Am I Not Merciful?",.the balance is perfect, but on the more gentle pieces like "The Wheat," "To Zucchabar" and "Reunion," it wouldn't have hurt the overall composition to have raised the overall volume a notch or two in the mix.

Zimmer is no stranger to the world of film scoring; his name might be best known for his work on Disney's The Lion King. This is only Gerrard's second film scoring project (the other being The Insider), but it doesn't take Caesar Augustus to figure out that this partnership is just beginning to come to fruition. It is my sincere hope that Zimmer and Gerard will work together again in the near future; what they could come up with is simply too exciting to imagine.

Gladiator is the kind of soundtrack that will have you on the edge of your seat - even if you've never seen the film. It is one of the best overall soundtracks I've heard in a long time, and is well worth picking up for your collection.

Rating: A-

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© 2000 Christopher Thelen and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Decca Records, and is used for informational purposes only.