"Had I been a gladiator, I think my weapon of choice would have been the duduk. The
ancient double-reed woodwind instrument is as capable of inflicting grievous bodily harm
as a love slap from one of those giant cotton buds used by contestants on Gladiators (the
TV-series), but it’s unfailing in its ability to emotionally mesmerise anyone within
earshot – if you can play it as well as Djivan Gasparyan that is (which is
undoubtedly where my strategy would have come unstuck).
Gasparyan’s haunting lines, and Lisa Gerrard’s spine-tingling, portentous
vocal intonations are the pensive moments of a score that is otherwise as unrelenting as
it is inspiring. Hans Zimmer is in full heroic-anthem mode here with urgent triple-time
timpani driving dramatic, heavily accented arrangements. The highlighted motifs are short
and powerful, with strongly resolving melodies against intricate harmonic structures.
This is powerful and uplifting music with no holds barred, particularly in the epic
grandeur of The Battle and Barbarian Hordes – each 10-minutes of strident,
uncompromising rhythmic phrases. Zimmer uses every available compositional weapon in his
armoury, with legions of brass, strings and full-regalia orchestration to evoke the brutal
mayhem of combat.
Occasionally the cut and thrust of the tonal tension is released with a shimmering
string cue, the lyrical contributions of Gasparyan and Gerrard, or the stuttering,
delicate dissonance of Heitor Pereira’s classical guitar phrasing, only to spring
back with an even mightier crescendo of terror and triumph.
A note for coaches re the upcoming Origin of the Species Rugby League series: This is
the pre-game psyche music you’ve dreamed of. Forget Queen’s We Will Rock You,
this soundtrack had me ready to wrestle a tiger – well my cat anyway - who had the
good sense to go scurrying under the lounge on hearing the first couple of bars.
The style is certainly predictable, and obviously you need to be in the right mood to
appreciate this soundtrack. But it’s wonderfully spirited and uplifting, and –
if you’ll excuse the anachronism (the setting is two hundred years after J. Caesar)
– It Sings. It Soars. It Conquers."
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ID: 467 094-2
COMPOSER: Hans Zimmer, Lisa Gerrard
ADDITIONAL MUSIC: Klaus Badelt, Djivan Gasparyan
PRODUCER: Hans Zimmer, Klaus Badelt
CONDUCTOR: Gavin Greenaway
FEATURED PERFORMERS: The Lyndhurst Orchestra, Lisa Gerrard (vocals), Heitor Pereira
(guitars), Djivan Gasparyan (duduk), Tony Pleeth (solo cello), Maurice Murphy (solo