Foros Timis Ston Greko

a look at the music of Vangelis Papathanassiou

If there is one release highly valued by admirers of Vangelis then it must be this one! In 1995 the National Gallery (Alexandros Soutzos Museum) in Athens publised "FOROS TIMIS STON GKREKO" (A Tribute To El Greco) in an initiative to generate funds for the purchase of Domenicos Theotocopoulos' (El Greco) painting 'Saint Peter'. Limited to only 3000 copies the release and sale of 'A Tribute To El Greco' is Vangelis' contribution to establishing the "National Fund for the Purchase of Works of Art", a fund created to enable Greek musea to purchase works of art that are considered part of the Greek cultural heritage.

The full release of  "FOROS TIMIS STON GKREKO" consists of a CD (housed in a digi-pack sleeve), a 128-page art book, a specially printed sheet containing Vangelis' introduction (in Greek) and (if bought at the museum) a numbered purchasing ticket.

The CD itself is numbered by hand, as well as signed by Vangelis. The digi-pack sleeve  contains credits both in Greek (on the back) and in English (inside). The art book is also written in Greek ánd English, with a section thanking Vangelis for his contribution and detailed information on El Greco's life and work. Naturally it contains many photos of El Greco's paintings. Finally, the large box that contains it all is a large blue hard-covered velvet-textured box, with two overlapping panels on top.

The music on the cd, dedicated and inspired by El Greco's paintings ranks among my top favorite music of all time. The subtle and reflective  Byzantine compositions are crowned with a breathtaking 'Movement VII'...


This album is one of those that only has contains 'Movements', in this case Movement I to VII. Three years after the limited release the music was also issued as "El Greco", but that album is slightly edited and extended with three new tracks (Movements III, V and VII).

Composed, arranged and performed by Vangelis.
Montserrat Caballé - soprano
Konstantinos Paliatsaras - tenor
Recorded by Frederick Rousseau and Philippe Colonna.
Choir conducted by Ivan Cassar.


1995 FOROS TIMIS STON GKREKO Warner Music UK Limited SAM 1702 Greece.


Recording Studio
Although there is no mention where the music is recorded, considering that it was released just before "Voices" it was most likely recorded in the same studio.

Only by pure coincidence, the day that I bought my copy of the "FOROS TIMIS STON GKREKO" box in Athens was also the day that I personally met Vangelis. An occasion that surely I will not lightly forget, and this is to ever remind me of that impressive moment...


The project shows Vangelis at his most inspired by the almost exclusively religious paintings from Domenikos Theotokopoulos (to give El Greco his full name) and his general artistic outlook. This becomes apparent from a rare personal note by Vangelis in the booklet, which is basically the mystic statement that, in order to be a truly creative artist, one must be true to one's own nature and thus to Cosmic nature in general, as they are identical. The music's flavour is very Byzantine, using Greek orthodox harmonies, church-bells, choir-sounds and more. It's got a faint religious touch and is both austere and rich at the same time - austere because of the generally sparse orchestration, rich because of its deeply felt emotions. One of Vangelis' main musical strengths, which is the use of rubato (the slight quickening up or slowing down of the tempo of the music to create those subtle effects), is very much in evidence throughout. Two singers from the classical world also make a contribution - a great aria by Spanish soprano Montserrat Caballe accompanied on piano and on another track tenor Konstantinos Paliatsaras. ... although it's hard to think of a classical composer creating music equivalent in nature to 'El Greco' still anyone who likes classical music (for instance Wagner - similar use of rubato, or perhaps Eastern European religious music) will in all probability like this music as well.

Review by Ivar de Vries