Years ago, my friend Jim recorded portions of Vangelis' Heaven and Hell LP for me. One part of the first section, "Heaven", was adopted by Carl Sagan as the theme music for his PBS special Cosmos. Years went by, and after finally purchasing a CD player, one of the first CDs I purchased was Opera Sauvage by Vangelis. Since then, I have purchased many more, including a "Best of . . ." collection of the three records he did with Yes lead singer Jon Anderson. When I discovered El Greco in the Borders Book Store on Michigan Avenue in Chicago in mid-winter, 2000, I did not realize I had picked up something special. To be honest, I was underwhelmed by The City, and Oceanic had its moments, but was kind of blah.
From the very opening of the first movement of El Greco, however, I knew this was the kind of thing I thought Vangelis should have been doing all along. Here is that first movement. I know it's long - just over ten minutes - please indulge me, indulge yourselves. There is just something transcendent about this opening movement. Like the painter and his works, the work has a beauty that is dark, yet sublime.
For the record, "El Greco" was a nickname. Like Vangelis, "El Greco" was actually a Cypriot of Greek descent.