People know Theodorakis's
name, if at all, because of his music for the film Zorba
The Greek and that's now quite a long time ago. In fact
there's a good deal more to Theodorakis than that. Some of you
may know the clutch of Theodorakis works recorded by Berlin
Classics. Beyond that set there are twenty other CDs recorded
by Intuition. These set out a substantial portion of his large
and still extending catalogue.
The present Intuition
disc offers us an insight into two of his works for solo instrument
and orchestra. The music in each of these two works is in a
series of short and separately-tracked movements. The style
is gracious, melodious and often dance-like - in short, delightful.
The nine movements of the cello work are titled after the nine
Muses: the daughters of Zeus Mnemosyne. Euterpe, Erato, Melpomene,
Calliope, Clio, Uranie, Terpsichore, Polymnie and Thalie. Theodorakis's
deeply imbued beliefs and life experience have produced a creativity
which speaks direct to people without academic contrivance or
systems. His language stays within the bounds of tonality, folk
melody and dance rhythms. The music is of fibrous emotional
substance and sincerity - a stranger to blandness, commercialism
or specious sentimentality. The two works - which interestingly
avoid use of the word 'concerto' - prefer the candid freedom
of the 'Rhapsody'. The cello work is rhythmic without wildness.
Apt parallels might include, Dvořák with a modern Mediterranean
accent, with a completely refreshing folksy directness of utterance.
There is about this music a sense of dance, of kindness of heart.
One can hear something of the skirl of the Greek Dances of Skalkottas,
the peace of Vaughan Williams’ string-writing, the warmth of
olive groves and the dazzle of blue-green seas. Much the same
can be said of the seven movement guitar rhapsody. The cool
and calming andante of the guitar work (tr. 12) illustrates
Theodorakis's simplicity of expression which allows great eloquence
too. This can be heard in the hymnal-chorale melody given to
the orchestra in the second andante (tr. 13). Its Lento-Allegro
(tr. 14) echoes with pizzicato and with the voice of the bouzouki.
If you enjoy the guitar concertos by Rodrigo, Ponce and Torroba
then do hear the Rhapsody not because it sounds in any way Spanish
but because it will be sure to captivate.
If you would like to
delve further you will find a valuable library of information
about Theodorakis at his website.
Do get to hear these
lovely works if you can. They quite properly will make you wonder
what you have missed in not hearing the symphonies, the grand
operas and the ballets. I hope to delve further through the Theodorakis
and Intuition catalogue over the next year or so.