on 3 March 2005
Movement I in particular I was convinced I'd heard before: more Vangelis than Vangelis! Classical, classy, dark, ancient, beautiful, rich, deep:- just wonderful! I can't recommend the thing too highly. Beethoven sounds like someone on a kazoo after this (only joking). Wonderful choice of sounds and colours. A cathedral in a CD case, and yours for about six sobs in the used section. I've bought more copies of this one for friends than just about anything. Definitely in my top 5 albums of all time. You get the picture...
on 1 September 2005
This is a truly excptional album. I have been listening to Vangelis for a number of years now but this is without doubt the best thing he has ever done. I bought El Greco when it was commercially released in 1998 and I deliberately don't play it too often in case I get too used to it! It is a distinctly Vangelis album, steeped in joyous melancholy, but more than that, it is an album where Vangelis as composer and not just as innovator comes to the forefront. It is a composers template of how to draft an album; judiciously paced and balanced, with a masterlike grip over the timbre and dynamics. In a world of cheap, throwaway plastic pap, El Greco is an essential work for your collection.
on 27 September 2004
Simply put,"El Greco" is the finest piece of music by Vangelis i have ever heard, and the most emotionally-charged music he has ever done.The power and sheer majesty of the music is awe-inspiring and a total joy to behold throughout each of the ten movements.Brooding,dark and haunting - this is an album of affecting melodies combined with a complete mastery of dynamics,making this an exceptionally sublime listening experience.The music has a grandeur that few albums can equal,indeed it's hard to believe that this is the work of one man such is the towering achievement evident here. one of my favourite albums of any genre,not just instrumental, this is an essential purchase.
This is a truly unique album, a tribute by a Greek composer and instrumentalist to a Greek-born painter who achieved fame and success in sixteenth and seventeenth-century Spain. I know of nothing that comes close to it. Having said that, in a sense Vangelis has been here before, in his soundtrack for the film `1492', only there he was a century early and his compositions were limited by the exigencies of film. Here, though, Vangelis's music evokes the elongated flames of candles lighting up the dark, much as the figures in El Greco's own paintings have the same elongated form.
The sound of church bells opens Vangelis's tribute to the painter El Greco, and it is bells that are a recurring motif throughout this CD's set of ten movements. They toll as if under the sea in the ninth movement, hauntingly reminiscent of such real lost coastal towns as Dunwich off the Suffolk coast, or perhaps more pertinently of some lost and legendary Atlantis. Above these submarine bells a cor anglais plays a five-note lament of majesty, of beauty, and of death. Bells commence the seventh movement too, inviting the listener indoors from the cold outside, into the warmth to partake in processions and dancing. Bells also often act as segues between movements.
But `El Greco' is by no means a symphony of bells. Other instruments play major roles too, whether it be the zither or cimbalom (or its synthesised variant) in movement two; the harp in the third; the drum-roll of execution (crucifixion?) in the eighth; or the piano that dominates movements five and ten. In the former, the piano is a joyous and syncopated cascade; in the latter, the piano is lyrical, paying romantic tribute to the painter. There are voices as well: soprano Montserrat Caballe sings with great beauty in the fourth movement, and she is joined by tenor Konstantinos Paliatsaras in the sixth, a movement of the night, set (for this reviewer at least) under moonlight and on the walls of old Toledo. The eighth music features a marvellous celestial chorale to contrast with the drums of execution.
There is certainly more atmosphere than melody in this set. It has the aura of the night. Darkness is key to this music, darkness and candle light, a mirror of El Greco's works, which have often the appearance of a black rather than a white base. The music also evokes the red of fires glowing in the night, fires to warm the body and protect it from the searing wind of the high Spanish plateau. Gold likewise plays its part, such as in the opening scene where the bells give way to a slowly-swaying bass upon which sits a rich and golden royal presence. The only movement to fall below great status is the third, where the harp is pedestrian: Skaila Kanga it is not.
on 11 August 2005
Vangelis has produced a varied output over the years, ranging from the sequencer led Albedo 039 album to the splendour of Heaven and Hell and the atmospherics of the Blade Runner and 1492 soundtracks.
El Greco finds him in neo classical, atmospheric mood. Not as immediete as, say, the first half of the Chariots of Fire soundtrack, it rewards repeated listening.
There are a lot of textures herein and and some of his best mood painting. This is an album for late evening. Sit back, with the bevarage of choice, and let this album wash over you...
The vocal contributions fit in well, are wonderfuly recorded and add a spine tingling touch. It is an experience worth savouring.
There is no explanation of what "JJ36", which appears three times on the packaging refers to...
An excellent album for chilling out to, it also has the depth to stand up to close listening.
I suspect that extracts of this work would not sound as impressive as the album works best as a whole, a beautifly paced and judged listening experience.
Those looking for more extrovert works would be better off checking out albmus such as Albedo 039 and The City... Or maybe one of the many compilation albums of his work that are available...
But for the pure stuff, sign up here.... for one of Vangalis' most artistically successful and evocative albums...
on 11 June 2002
It is quite notorious that in the last time Vangelis is entering into the world of Classical Music, though with electronic instruments. But no matter Vangelis does not compose for a traditional orchestra, "El Greco" is without any doubt classical music, and, more properly, according to the instrumentation, first rate chamber music. As other reader has pointed out, it is a Requiem for the great Cretan-Toledan painter Domenikos Theotokopoulos, whose nickname "El Greco" means simple "The Greek" in that period's Castilian. Please enjoy this subleme CD, which cannot be compared to any other work Vangelis has composed up to that moment. And try to think in those beatiful paintings of "El Greco" and in his thin and long human figures, like resembling unearthly creatures, especially "El entierro del Conde de Orgaz" and "El Caballero de la Mano en el Pecho" (who, according to certain theories, is Miguel de Cervantes himself).
Vangelis has also composed, at least in my opinion, two other great classical-style compositions: the semi-operatic music for "1492", probably his large-scale masterwork, and now "Mythodea", in this last case using, as a companion to his keyboards, a full sumphony orchestra, two sopranos and a grek choir. I recommend the three works, but from an intimate standpoint, El Greco is more touching. From epic, or Wagnerian, standpoints, "1492" ana "Mythodea" cannot be missed.
on 31 October 2000
I have listened to Vangelis' music for as long as I can remember, although my interest began with "I'll find My Way Home". Over the years his albums have fallen into varying categories, those which are easy to listen to, those which are okay in the background and, more recently, those which are powerful.
For me, this is the best album Vangelis has produced yet, its eight movements soaring with emotion. Its so different from anything he has done before. Anyone who has only heard Chariots of Fire has never heard Vangelis at his best (I always thought that was an album he did in his sleep).
The first and last movements on the album are excellent and those in between are equally great. I eagerly await his next album (Mythodes, I think its called).
For those who like music that reaches deep into your mind and soul, who like music that stirs both the memory and the imagination then this album is both relaxing and emotive.
on 14 January 2013
Despite a boring album cover this is Vangelis at his best. It's dark but gentle. If you like the Bounty music and 1492 soundtracks then give this one a try.
on 25 June 2001
A wonderful, emotionally charged and dark piece of music. It's Like being in a grand Venician Hall just after the masked ball has ended. Its exquisitally dark and sinister. His best work yet. I've found myself listening more than anything else I own but always thinking that I shouldnt in case I either become accustomed to it or it drags me down into despair. It's a truly wonderful album and I would recommend others buy it whole-heartedly! It's now become my favourite CD.
on 11 June 2016
I haven't listened to Vangelis for quite a long time, not since 'Oceanic'.
I've missed a few albums, and this latest is another revelation; like his previous two albums, there's a lot more choral sounds in this one, and, whilst this is not new (first heard on 'Heaven and Hell'), this time it feels much more personal.
There are moments on this album when I am reminded of 'Sadeness' by Enigma, but that, for me, is no bad thing.
This album is, for me, a reminder that Vangelis can be both epic, and intimate, and at times, the music and production is simply exquisite.