Gladiator: Music from the Original Soundtrack

Largely thanks to enduring themes of persecution, freedom, and heroism, Gladiator counts itself as one of the new millennium’s blockbuster movies. Yet Hans Zimmer and Lisa Gerrard’s score has as much to do with the film’s impact as the visuals or narrative. Initially, the collaboration between the veteran film composer (Zimmer) and pop singer (Gerrard) seemed an odd pairing. But as Dead Can Dance fans knew, Gerrard is not a typical pop vocalist. The resultant score sounds nothing like conventional Hollywood Roman extravaganzas, ala Spartacus or Ben Hur.

Presented on this 2LP set in spectacularly huge orchestral sound, you can readily hear Gerrard’s otherworldly contributions to Zimmer’s punchy, pungent tonal palette. The 17 selections provide contrasting albeit evocative styles, ranging from exotic Middle Eastern harmonies (“The Wheat”) to more conventional brassy martial music that echo Gustav Holst’s The Planets (“The Battle”). The overall tone tends toward somber, so the need for three side changes provides welcome breaks in the prevailing mood. And the level of musicianship produced by Gavin Greenway and the Lyndhurst Orchestra is first-rate—as is the ethereal female vocalist who intermittently appears during the proceedings. As expected, the records’ surfaces are spotless and the packing superb.  —Lawrence Devoe

London/Original Recording Group, 2 180g 45RPM LPs