It sometimes saddens me how often worthy outpourings of creativity are put to the cold sword of pragmatism. Of course it is unwise to dwell on such things. Unless one wants to dwell in a padded cell.
But it's tremendously refreshing when marketing merchants find a pretext to give the thumbs up, and rescue artistry that seemed otherwise destined for oblivion. Make no mistake, the impetus for this release is to exploit, to the Max(imus), Gladiator's commercial conquest. Self-interest in high places has varied zilch since the days of Roman Emperors.
Don't worry about the motives. When real talent is behind a project there are always out-takes, alternative versions, extensions and indulgences that didn't make the final cut for reasons other than intrinsic merit. So there are legions of reasons to lend an ear to this Gladiatorial encore.
Not the least of which is Hans Zimmer's liner notes. Anatomising each track - - its genesis, influences, purpose and final fate - - he provides a unique insight from the perspective of the composer.
One of his most interesting revelations is that from day one he was not tempted by the historical context to develop a score that would "sound like musical anthropology or archaeology". In other words, he forgot about digging for authenticity and went with his gut.
The results speak, and sing, and chant and sweetly thunder for themselves. Both on the original soundtrack, and just as triumphantly here.
Again there is a vast dynamic spectrum from intimate instrumentation to overwhelming orchestral forces. With the former we are privileged to more treats from Djivan Gasparyan (the guy can sure blow his dudk), Heitor Pereira'a shimmering acoustic guitar, improvisations of flute fireworks by Jeff Rona and spine thrilling vocals from Australia's Lisa Gerrard.
Zimmer's synthesiser demo of The Galdiator Waltz is curiosity value only (if you have the original soundtrack) but interesting, nonetheless, for those curious about this modern procedure of orchestration.
It is also quite wonderful to hear excerpts of dialogue that aren't contrived simply for promotional value. No need in this case. Instead they are mixed, matched and integrated - sometimes with the "wrong" section of score - simply because the result sounds good. Can't argue with that approach.
The CD concludes with a techno mix of the main themes that demonstrates how much richer the dance charts would be if only the electronica boffins would write some real music over their throbbing beats.
Just as much a winner as the fundamental Gladiator score, this release is a Colossal bonus to fans of a soundtrack that has already secured its place in cinematic history."
Published March 22, 2001