Vangelis-Mythodea: Music for the Nasa Mission, 2001 Mars Odyssey (2001)

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Released 8-Aug-2002

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Music Main Menu Audio & Animation
Introduction
Notes-The Mars Odyssey
Notes-Man's Fascination With The Red Planet
Notes-Commentary by Vangelis
Featurette-Making Of
Music Video
Biographies-Cast
Rating Rated E
Year Of Production 2001
Running Time 76:22
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 1,2,3,4,5,6 Directed By Declan Lowney
Studio
Distributor
Sony Classical
Sony Music
Starring Vangelis
Kathleen Battle
Jessye Norman
London Metropolitan Orchestra
Blake Neely
National Opera of Greece Choir
Seistron & Typana Percussion Ensembles
Case Amaray-Transparent
RPI $29.95 Music Vangelis


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Linear PCM 48/16 2.0 (1536Kb/s)
English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1
16x9 Enhancement
Not 16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.78:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles None Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    The NASA 2001 Mars Odyssey Mission has an ambitious and somewhat romantic goal: to transport an orbital satellite to Mars that will revolve around the planet and systematically map the planetary surface. NASA scientists will use the data collected to chart the unseen record of water that once lingered on Mars' surface in the hope of finding clues to the possibilities of life on the Red Planet (past or present).

    The Mars Odyssey orbiter was launched on 7 April 2001 on a Delta II rocket from Cape Canaveral, Florida, and reached Mars on 24 October 2001. The science mapping mission began in February 2002 and will continue through August 2004 (over a full Martian year). The spacecraft will also serve as a communications relay for U.S. and international spacecraft scheduled to arrive at Mars in 2003 and 2004.

    Famous electronic music and film composer Vangelis (full name Evangelos Papathanassiou) decided to celebrate the mission by combining his life-long fascination with mythology, science and space exploration to create an ambitious "choral symphony" entitled "Mythodea: Music for NASA's Mars Odyssey mission" - a combination of the words "myth" and "ode." The composition links the present day "adventure" of the Mars Odyssey Mission to the myths and legends of Ancient Greece, in particular Homer's Odyssey.

    This is a monumental composition, featuring Vangelis' electronic instruments combined with a full orchestra and chorus as well as containing significant parts for two sopranos. In terms of compositional style, it links in his early arrangements of Greek folk songs (Odes and Rapsodies) with his "symphonic" compositions such as Mask and Soil Festivities together with his recent experience writing for a soprano (Montserrat Caballe) in his A Tribute to El Greco.

    This DVD contains the filming of a concert of Vangelis performing Mythodea on his custom-built electronic keyboards, along with the London Metropolitan Orchestra (arranged and conducted by Blake Neely), the 120-member chorus of the National Opera of Greece, and 28 percussionists. The concert was held on 28 June 2001 at the Temple of Zeus in Athens, Greece under the auspices of the Greek Ministry of Culture and was presented by the Hellenic Cultural Heritage Society. It is the first major concert performed at the temple, which dates back to the 6th century BC., and featured a giant cloth screen (in the Marble Stadium, built for the revival of the Olympics in 1896) on which were projected images of Mars from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory and icons from Greek Mythology. The concert features famous sopranos Kathleen Battle and Jessye Norman.

    Mythodea is divided into ten movements. Movements 1, 2 and 10 predominantly feature the chorus, whereas the movements in between are mainly arias sung by either or both sopranos. For example, Movement 5 is sung by Kathleen and Movement 6 is sung by Jessye.

    With such a cast of artists, subject material and dramatic setting, the concert is, of course, spectacular. The only thing that spoils it for me is the encore, where Vangelis performs the theme song from Chariots of Fire. Now granted that that particular melody is his most well-known work (and judging from the cheering crowd the audience obviously loved it), I personally found it too different to the style of Mythodea for it to make an effective and harmonious encore. It's almost as if Beethoven finished a performance of his 9th Symphony followed by tinkling the tune of Fur Elise on a piano. Now, if Vangelis had played the closing theme of Heaven and Hell (used as the theme song in the TV series Cosmos) ...

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Track Listing

1. Introduction
2. Movement 1
3. Movement 2
4. Movement 3
5. Movement 4
6. Movement 5
7. Movement 6
8. Movement 7
9. Movement 8
10. Movement 9
11. Movement 10
12. Encore: Chariots of Fire

Transfer Quality

Video

    We are presented with a widescreen 1.78:1 transfer, but alas it is NOT 16x9 enhanced. Prior to the actual feature itself we are presented with a short video "commercial" urging us to buy the CD and a short introduction by Scott Bolton (Astrophysicist). These are embedded within the menu and are not skippable by the player.

    Given the concert was filmed quite recently (around a year ago) I would have expected the transfer to be stunning, however the transfer didn't quite meet my expectations. It's not a bad transfer, but slightly on the soft side, which is a combination of the low lighting condition, minor pixelization and lack of 16x9 enhancement.

    Colours looked good, but slightly on the yellowish side, which is probably a result of the lights but could have been easily corrected at the editing stage.

    The minor pixelization which persists throughout the entire transfer is not easily visible when watching the feature in letterboxed mode, but become annoying if you blow up the image to fill a widescreen display.

    Occasionally, the pixelization does become annoying even in letterboxed mode, particularly at around 9:18-9:25.

    There are no subtitle tracks on this single sided single layered disc.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    There are two audio tracks on this disc: English Linear PCM 48/16 2.0 (1536Kb/s), and English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s). I listened to both tracks, and also compared them with the version on CD (which is a studio recording).

    Although both tracks are marked "English" they might as well be called "Music" as there is no dialogue.

    The Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track is very impressive sounding. The orchestra sounds solid and full, and the voices are clear without sounding too harsh. There are lots of low frequencies present in the front left and right speakers as well as in the LFE track. Unfortunately, the rear speakers are barely used and I can only detect the faintest of ambience coming from them. Also, the centre speaker seems to be only used to "fill" the gap between the two front speakers. I suspect the 5.1 audio track is a stereo mix artificially enhanced for surround rather than a "true" surround track. The track is mastered at a relatively high level (about 3 dB higher than normal).

    The stereo PCM track in comparison does not sound as bass heavy, is mastered at about 3 dB lower than the Dolby Digital 5.1 track, but sounds smoother with better micro dynamics.

    The CD version, which is a studio recording, sounds very similar to the stereo PCM track but has even less bass and is 3 dB lower in level than the DVD PCM track. Also, it seems to me that although the CD track did not sound as "harsh", it has the "glazy" sound typical of many CDs.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

    Extras include a "making of" featurette and extensive notes (in text). The notes are reproduced in the booklet accompanying the CD version.

Menu

    The main menu is animated and features a video introduction. I did not notice any background audio.

Notes-The Mars Odyssey

    This is a short essay by Dr. Jim Garvin, Chief Scientist, NASA Mars Exploration Program, presented as text over 6 stills.

Notes-Man's Fascination With The Red Planet

    This is a short essay by Laurence Bergreen, author of Voyage to Mars: NASA's Search For Life Beyond Earth, presented as text over 3 stills.

Notes-Commentary by Vangelis

    This is a short essay by Vangelis, presented as text over 2 stills.

Featurette-Making Of (20:17)

    This is a "making of" featurette that combines footage of the construction of the stage prior to the concert, dress rehearsals and interviews with:

    The featurette is presented full frame with Dolby Digital 2.0 (192 Kb/s) sound.

Music Video (3:56)

    This features an edited excerpt from the programme, presented in 1.78:1 without 16x9 enhancement and Dolby Digital 2.0 (192 Kb/s) audio.

Biographies-Cast

    This is a set of stills providing biographies of

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    This title appears to be identically featured across both regions.

Summary

    Vangelis-Mythodea: Music For The NASA Mission: 2001 Mars Odyssey is a massive choral symphony from the famous electronic and film composer dedicated to the NASA mission to systematically map the planetary surface of Mars in search of "water marks" that will provide clues to the possibilities of life on the Red Planet. It is performed at the Temple of Zeus by Vangelis accompanied by a full orchestra and chorus plus the singing talents of Kathleen Battle and Jessye Norman. The video is acceptable but not 16x9 enhanced and the audio is superb but makes minimal use of the surround channels. Extras include a featurette, a "music video" and extensive notes.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Christine Tham (read my biography)
Wednesday, August 28, 2002
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV-626D, using Component output
DisplaySony VPL-VW11HT LCD Projector, ScreenTechnics 16x9 matte white screen (254cm). Calibrated with Video Essentials/Ultimate DVD Platinum. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials/Ultimate DVD Platinum.
AmplificationDenon AVR-3300
SpeakersFront and rears: B&W CDM7NT; centre: B&W CDMCNT; subwoofer: B&W ASW2500

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