Sonoko F. from MONTCLAIR, NJ Reviewed on 1/29/2007...
Selection of Vangelis' work, most interesting. CDnow.com review:
"I don't know what Vangelis could possibly say in words that he hasn't said in music in this album. For a reputed recluse, this compilitation is very revealing, it's his statement to us, "Here I am". I don't think it coincidental that he begins with 'To the unknown man' and after he has taken us on a musical exploration of his life, he sends us on our way with a casual 'So long ago, so clear'.
In 'Portraits' the recordings are not organised chronologically. It's more like a developmental process beginning with his early work in sythesizers and electronic orchestration (see 'Pulstar' and 'Alpha'). There are selections hinting at personal growth also such as the childlike sounds of 'Italian Song' and the innocence of 'La Petite Fille De La Mer'. Collaborative works with Jon Anderson, who could be called the voice of Vangelis come next, and then we are treated to the grand and epic orchestral pieces. Tracks such as 'I'll find my way home' and 'State of Independence' no longer hint at personal development, they speak directly to self discovery, spiritual quests and growth. These themes are also woven into 'Conquest of Paradise' and 'Chariots of Fire' and tell me that 'Hymn' and 'Antarctica' don't make you contemplative.
I agree with the other reviewers who say that it is awkward to play individual songs out of sequence because of the bridging technique, but I think it's deliberate. To me the real enjoyment of this collection comes from listening to it in one sitting. Let Vangelis tell the story of his life in music without interruption. It's a beatiful story. - michaeleve"
To The Unknown Man.
Jason Stein | San Diego, CA United States | 10/02/2005
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Polydor compiles 15 select tracks from Vangelis's prolific career circa 1996. There are several best of discs out there now, but he is long overdue for a two or three disc, digitally remastered best of. If you do not own any Vangelis, then this compilation would be suitable. However, it misses great tracks that were featured on his 1989 compilation "Themes" (which also lacked key Vangelis tracks).
There were a few annoying features to "So Long Ago, So Clear", namely that all the tracks blend into one another making buring any particular track difficult because you would either get the ending of the last song or the beginning of the next one. Also, "Hymn" is a remixed version, which in my opinion, is not as good as the version on "Themes".
Otherwise, you have 15 decent tracks gathered together including some of his best work such as "Chariots Of Fire", "I'll Find My Way Home", "Conquest Of Paradise", "Antarctica" and "La Petite Fille De La Mer". I'd recommend getting "Themes" to round out your best of collection as it has some of his other best work. However, "Themes" is not digitally remastered, and I believe the only way to experience Vangelis's music is digitally remastered.
Certainly one of the greatest composers of modern times and a pioneer of new age/electronic music, even beginning before the godfathers of synthetic music, Kraftwerk. Someone needs to get permission from all the record labels and compile a smart two, three or four disc compilation, with no blending of tracks, all songs in their original album form, digitally remastered."
Felix Hayman | Australia | 08/02/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Forget the other clunky anthologies.This is the very best of Vangelis.It has everything you will ever want from 1969-1989. Just delete "Italian song" and you have it all. Much reccomended"
Very good compilation
Raul Marini | Montevideo, Uruguay | 12/26/2002
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This was the second CD I've got from vangelis, the first one was "Friends of Mr. Cairo" which wasn't instrumental and included Jon Anderson in vocals. The first impression that Portraits gave me was the quality of the sound: "I'll find my way home" (and the others) sounds much better on Portraits than on Friends of Mr Cairo (it's the same song, but after listening to it a lot in the old CD you'll hear the difference in the quality on this CD). That's because Portraits is remastered, each and every single track were restored from the original master tapes: they just sound as if Vangelis recorded these tracks in a digital studio yesterday night. Or better, it's like if a sound engineer traveled to the past with modern digital equipment and he hiden it in the studio where vangelis recorded those tracks. As a result, the sound is crisp, as never, and I can say that not always a remasterisation gets that good. The second impression it gave me was the music, and how did Vangelis evolved over the years, you will hear that on this CD. It starts with old(I really mean old) songs like "To the Unknown man" which may be repetitive but that's the deal, does someone ever hear how repetitive "Boléro" from "Maurice Ravel" is?
Then I really get impressed with "La petite Fille de la Mer"("the little girl from the sea"). Each and every time I hear to that song I wanna cry. I don't understand how can an instrumental song make someone cry. I don't understand how can that make me cry, it is that beautiful? Yes, it is. Absolutely. Just hear to it and find out.
Then, well, now that I know many Vangelis albums, I really can't say if this is a good compilation or not. Let's say it is a good compilation just to find out what is vangelis (before getting in), so this CD will help you at least to know which era of vangelis you'll like, the old, the modern, the soundtracks or the songs with Jon vocals. After I concluded that every era in vangelis is good, I felt this album is not needed anymore. To make a really good vangelis compilation, you'll need to buy each and every album, buy an MP3 CD player, a CD burner, and take 1 day of your time to rip all the songs you want to hear into One and mighty CD with vangelis MP3 inside. Actually, yes, Vangelis is that good. You'll maybe need to burn more than one mp3 CD...."