I will confess I was pleasantly surprised by the quality of the music on
this disc and the Xena album reviewed above. I had only come across
LoDuca in reviewing his music for Young Hercules on this site last
year - a young people's pop-based score which I did not rate highly at all.
[As a family we have only enjoyed Digital TV and therefore Hercules and Xena
for the last eight months or so].
Again Varèse have served up a generous helping with nearly 70 minutes
of varied material. The notes are threadbare with only cue titles as guidance.
Do the four collection titles refer to separate episodes of the fantasy TV
series based on the Greek mythological hero?
The album opens with five selections from Sumeria: Faith/Descent. The opening
cue opens in very dramatic fashion with a strong, thrusting rhythmically
vital theme with chorus again, as in the Xena opening track, in Carl Orff
mode. LoDuca uses his predominantly male chorus a lot in these Sumeria
selections: in 'Zombie Fight' they spit out their words with malevolent relish
over a suitably trudging mindless Zombie-like orchestral accompaniment. In
Sumerian Boat Song they intone in time to their oar-strokes over a controlling
rhythmic drumming. Later in this cue ghastly screechings and moanings leave
us in no doubt about the horrors 'Up River'. It is a tribute to LoDuca that
he rarely uses synthetic music to get the effects he wants.'Rebuilding' is
a very colourful cue: noble heroic material is contrasted with swirling,
voluptuous belly-dancing type music.
From Sumeria we go to ancient Ireland for 'Eire:Resurrection/Render Unto
Caesar'. Opening with the haunting, plaintive 'Faith's Song' we pass through
several cues that have much Gaelic charm and delicacy as well as more cloudy
and threatening material. Some of this harsher brooding menacing adversary-type
material is given to high strings in sour mode. Those pipes, which James
Horner seems to have made obligatory these days, are much in evidence. There
is also much of what you might call 'ancient' Riverdance material. The Druid
Chant sounds odd - not very Gaelic more Afro.
'Norseland: Norse by Norsewest (ouch!)/Rainbow Bridge', takes us northwards
with icy, trilling strings and crystalline harp figures etc as LoDuca evokes
the shadowy menaces of more Northern climes. Subtle influences of Sibelius,
Atterberg and Hanson are discernible.
The collection is completed by isolated cues from other episodes. 'Hunk O'
Herc' nods towards John Williams's Superman theme. 'We Go Now' is reminiscent
of Holst's Mars. 'Flying Machine/Believe in Yourself' reminds one of those
aerial dog fights, all dodgings and tracer bullets. 'Air Herc' is incongruous
modern rock. To an accordion and string accompaniment, a contralto sings
sultrily of how she has 'fallen so low with no place to go in 'One Dinar
a Dance'. The album closes with an appealing heroic/elegiac track, 'Works
of Art Pt. 1' No mention of any other parts?
Again, as for Xena, colourful and interesting music