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Hercules (Fernando Velazquez)

August 15, 2014

Synchrotones’ Microtones Review… all of the opinion, less of the words.


Cover_HerculesFVHERCULES

Fernando Velazquez, 2014, Sony Classical
25 tracks, 65:14

What is it? Brett Ratner (of “Rush Hour”, “Red Dragon” and “X-Men: The Last Stand”) directs this historic epic, starring Dwayne Johnson as the titular character. Reception of the film was mixed, leaning towards negative. Ratner has a history of working with great composer (Lalo Shifrin, Danny Elfman and John Powell, respectively where those aforementioned titles are concerned) and for “Hercules” he turned to Spanish musical heartthrob Fernando Velazquez.

What does it sound like? Orchestrated predominantly for strings, brass and some choir “Hercules” is loud and hyperactive. Racing strings, brass stabs, driving ostinati and a main theme that has a somewhat familiar hook to it (I’m thinking Brian Tyler’s “Iron Man 3” – and it probably would’ve been more appropriate for that kind of superhero). It’s a very typical ‘big hollywood score’, whilst retaining an orchestral centre – it’s not another Remote Control spin-off. Yet I’m struggling to recognise Velazquez’s own unique voice in this. Unlike Tuomas Kantelinen’s “Legend of Hercules” score, which still sounded very European and where the composer’s signature voice was clearly audible. Also, I find Velazquez’s orchestrations a bit one-sided; in that the strings are doing a lot of work where I’d be expecting woodwinds (especially where things are possibly meant to be a little more light-hearted). I’ve been looking forward to hearing a flat-out epic action score from the Spanish maestro, yet “Hercules” soon becomes tiresome. The album opens promisingly enough with “Son of Zeus”, in which the epic themes are supported by swirling strings and strident percussion. But “Pirate’s Camp” (amongst other cues) throws in a rock drumkit… which, for me, is just too cheesy. There is very little relief from the relentless ostinati and the really dense sound.

Is it any good? There are a few excellent cues to be found here. “End Title” offers a wonderful variation on the main theme, for cello and strings, before a rousing rendition of the theme finishes it off. The “Choir Theme” is as Velazquez as it gets on this album. Each cue shows potential, but the whole doesn’t quite add up to the sum of its parts. The trouble overall is that it is too loud, too hectic and ultimately becomes tiresome. Stylistically it owes a lot to Brian Tyler; and I’m barely recognising Velazquez’s own voice here.

Rating [2,5/5]


Review by Pete Simons, (c) Synchrotones

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