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The Agony And The Ecstasy: Deluxe Edition

The Agony And The Ecstasy: Deluxe Edition

SKU: VCL-1032
UPC: VCL11041032
Artist: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack
Title: The Agony And The Ecstasy: Deluxe Edition
Composer: Alex North and Jerry Goldsmith
Release Info: Limited Edition of 3000 copies
Product Update: Fewer than 25 copies remaining
Price: $19.98
This item is in stock
Music Composed and Conducted by Alex North

Also featuring:
Music Composed and Conducted by Jerry Goldsmith

To lead off our final set of CD Club releases for 2004 comes this Deluxe Edition of one of the great historical epic film scores of the 1960s.

Twentieth Century-Fox undertook a truly monumental production in order to bring Irving Stone’s epic historical biography to the screen. Starring Charlton Heston and Rex Harrison, and directed by Carol Reed (The Third Man, 1949), the film did an outstanding job of bringing the pageantry of the Renaissance to life while telling the tale of the celebrated ceiling.

Twentieth Century-Fox’s 1965 film would come just two years in the wake of the studio’s colossal mega-production of Cleopatra. Mounting an elaborate epic of the scale of The Agony and the Ecstasy in the aftermath of such a financial cataclysm was an enormous risk. Reed cast his film carefully and wisely. Moses himself (Charlton Heston) would be brought on to play the tormented artist Michelangelo. To play the warrior Pope, Julius II, Rex Harrison, Cleopatra’s own Emperor, Julius Caesar, returned to don the immaculate papal recreations of costume designer Vittorio Nino Novarese. The scope of the production was enormous. For their to-scale re-creation of the Sistine Chapel, Fox constructed in Rome the largest indoor set that had been built anywhere in the world up to that time. The film was captivating and the performances were wonderful. But the score … well, the score was a work of genius.

Another veteran of Cleopatra, composer Alex North seemed to go from strength to strength. Spartacus was an unparalleled masterpiece. Cleopatra was mesmerizing and even more groundbreaking. Agony sent North into an altogether different world and he produced a stirringly emotional and thrilling score that ranks with the all-time greats. Joining with Spartacus and Cleopatra, Agony concluded the composer’s trio of epics in grand style, ensuring that North would be considered one of the masters of the genre forever. It is a designation that not only lasts until today but North’s scores seem on an even higher and more unattainable plane when viewed from a distance of 50 years.

Of considerable concern to the filmmakers and studio was that audiences might need an introduction to, or at the very least a refresher course in, the work and significance of Michelangelo. Further, the notion that the artist of what is now one of the most famous of all paintings was, in fact, an artist who never considered himself a painter at all, needed to be emphasized. To do this, after production of The Agony and The Ecstasy had already had been completed, the studio decided to produce a documentary prologue to be shown before the film. Titled The Artist Who Did Not Want to Paint, the twelve and a half minute documentary was beautifully photographed, narrated by voice actor Marvin Miller and scored by the not-yet-legendary Jerry Goldsmith.

In his score for this moving study of genius, Jerry Goldsmith produced an absolutely stirring work. In fact, it remained one of the composer’s personal favorites through to the very end of his career. Though scored for full symphony orchestra, the orchestra actually speaks only occasionally. Despite the grandeur of the locations and works of art shown, Goldsmith’s composition is actually one of the most fragile and delicate he ever wrote. The Prologue, twelve and a half minutes in length, was composed in five movements (Rome, Florence, The Crucifix, The Stone Giants, The Agony of Creation), played without a break. As stunning a work as it is, the piece was not included on the original soundtrack album of Alex North’s score. Finally, and for the first time, it is here reunited with the score it was written to precede.

Alex North and Jerry Goldsmith were lifelong friends. Given the friendship and mutual respect the two composers shared, it seems particularly fitting and poignant finally to unite such thrilling examples of some of each man’s finest work.

This is truly one of the greats!


The Artist Who Did Not Want To Paint:

1. Prologue — The Artist Who Did Not Want To Paint (12:23)
i. Rome
ii. Florence
iii. The Crucifix
iv. The Stone Giants
v. The Agony of Creation

Music Composed and Conducted by Jerry Goldsmith

The Agony And The Ecstasy:

2. Prelude — The Mountains of Carrara (2:57)
3. The Warrior Pope (2:40)
4. The Medici (2:34)
5. The Sketch of The Apostles (3:12)
6. Sketch Destroyed (:58)
7. Genesis (3:36)
8. The Sistine Chapel (3:01)
9. The Contessina (2:47)
10. Painting (2:26)
11. The Agony (3:58)
12. Michelangelo’s Recovery (2:13)
13. Festivity In St. Peter’s Square (2:07)
14. Julius In The Garden (1:23)
15. Back To St. Peter’s (:56)
16. The War (2:06)
17. The Battle Field (1:58)
18. New Cardinal (2:00)
19. Michelangelo’s Magnificent Achievement and Finale (2:39)
20. To Work, My Son (Finale) (1:05)

Bonus Track:
21. Mountain Scene (3:37)

Music Composed and Conducted by Alex North

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