Aureole etc.

Golden Age singers

Nimbus on-line

Faure songs
Charlotte de Rothschild (soprano);

  Founder: Len Mullenger
Classical Editor: Rob Barnett

Mikis THEODORAKIS (b.1925)
Symphony No. 3 (1981)
Els Bolkestein (sop)
Rundfunkchor Berlin
Orchester der Komischen Oper Berlin/Heinz Rögner
rec. live - first performance, Komischen Oper, Berlin, 29 April 1982. ADD


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The Greek composer Mikis Theodorakis was born in 1925. He wrote with an allegiance to the folk culture of his country - a culture that had been long suppressed and diluted by the dominant Turkish voice. During the Second World War he joined the resistance against the occupying German and Italian troops. His anger can be heard in the finale of the Third Symphony. His First Symphony dates from 1948 written after learning of the death of his boyhood friend Lt. Makis Karlis. Apparently the First is purely orchestral and is threaded through with Greek tragedies, wall-paintings and the influence of Shostakovich's Leningrad Symphony. The Second and Third use poetic texts. The Second is called The Song of the Earth.

The Third is based on verse by Dionysius Solomos (1798-1837). This is an ambitiously scaled choral symphony. It begins with modest self control with a mezza voce chant-like theme carried by the strings and then joined by the voices. The music proceeds reverently and in peace with gong-stroke punctuation. Jangling restlessness then gains ascendancy with, not for the last time, rock-style activity from the percussion. Everything is tonal and accessible - very approachable music with sincere spiritual depth. At the zenith of the first movement the music has the weighty deliberation of Beethoven, the ecstasy of Howells (in the surging writing for soloist and choir - Stabat Mater and Missa Sabrinensis) and the massive choral impact of Stravinsky's Oedipus Rex and Klami's Hymnus (Finlandia FACD369). The second movement goes at a scathing hunting pace - a brusque and aggressive chase. This movement points up Theodorakis's skill with repetition of melodic and rhythmic material. This is more angular writing than that found in the first movement. Solo instruments dart and fly out of the textures with braying and ululating work for the brass like Hans Werner Henze's The Wreck of the Medusa. In fact the violent variety of the Henze work makes for quite a good parallel - at least for the second movement. After the frenetic turmoil of the Presto (tr. 2) the strings-led consolation of the Adagio offers balm and pathos. This is written to bring out the sonority of a grand string section but rises to a smashingly bumptious and incongruous orchestral peak after which the choir sing out with all the fervour of a Latvian patriotic hymn. The finale passes through Allegro vivace, Presto, Largo and Andante episodes. Almost as long as the first movement its incessant onward tumult finally stops and we sink into a Largo for strings over which a fragile high trumpet solo wheels as does the mollifying voice of Els Bolkestein. The work ends with a slowly graceful rising hymn for high strings and full choir falling into a chilly desolation amid the choir's sprechgesang whisperings. This work reminded me at several levels of Benjamin Leesí Fourth Symphony Memorial Candles (Naxos 8.559002) and Holmboe's Nietzsche Requiem (Dacapo 8.224207).

The useful notes are by Albrecht Duemling. The text are not given. The singing is in Greek.

Rob Barnett

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