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Eleni KARAINDROU (b. 1939)
Elegy of the Uprooting (2005)
CD 1
Prayer; Refugee’s Theme; The Weeping Meadow; Dance; An ode of tears; For the Phrygian land vast mourning; By the Sea; Depart and Eternity Theme; Rosa’s Aria ; Memories; Hecuba’s Lament / Hecuba’s Theme II; Telamon, you came to conquer our town; The city that gave birth to you ; was consumed by fire; An ode of tears; Theme of the Uprooting I; The Weeping Meadow II; Voyage; Voyage to Cythera; On the Road;
CD 2;
Parade; Return; Andromache’s Theme; The land I call home; Home of my forefathers; I wish I’m given There; Refugee’s Theme; The Seagull; Song of the Lake; Adagio – Father’s Theme; In vain the sacrifices; My beloved, your soul is wandering; Decision; Farewell Theme; Theme of the Lake; Hecuba’s Theme II; Lament for Astyanax; Exodos; The Weeping Meadow
Maria Farantouri (voice)
Vangelis Christopoulos(oboe); Socratis Sinopoulos Constantinople (lyra, laouto); Maria Bildea (harp); Konstantinos Raptis (accordion, bayan); (Sergiu Nastasaviolin); Renato Ripo (violoncello); Stella Gadedi (flute); Nikos Guinos (clarinet); Sopcratis Anthis (trumpet); Spyros Kazianis (bassoon); Vangelis Skouras (French horn); Aris Dimitriadis (mandolin); Christs Tsiamoulis (ney); Panos Dimitrakopoulos (kanonaki); Andreas Katsiyiannis (santouri); Andreas Papas (bendir, daouli); Eleni Karaindrou (piano)
Hellenic Radio and Television Choir /Antonis Kontogeorgiou
Camerata Orchestra Alexandros Myrat
rec. live 17 March 2005, Megaron, Athens
ECM NEW SERIES 1952 [49:35 + 43:47] 

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Eleni Karaindrou was born in the Greek mountain village of Teichio. She studied piano and musical theory at the Athens Hellenic Conservatory, history and archaeology at the University of Athens, and ethnomusicology and orchestration at the Sorbonne and the Scuola Cantorum in Paris. She has been an ECM artist since 1991, but “Elegy of the Uprooting” is her first concert recording for ECM. This was a production marshalling powerful instrumental and vocal forces – 110 musicians in total – orchestra, choir, traditional instruments ensemble, soloists, the composer herself on piano, plus singer Maria Farantouri, all performing to a capacity hometown audience at the Megaron, Athens.

“Elegy of the Uprooting” is described as a comprehensive resetting of Karaindrou’s musical history, integrated into what she has called “a scenic cantata.” The frame for the performance is supplied by music from “The Weeping Meadow” (originally written for Theo Angelopoulos’ film of 2003), and “Trojan Women”, music for K.X. Myris’ adaptation of the classic play by Euripides. These pieces – all receiving Greek concert premieres – provide a shaping context within which Eleni’s compositions of the last three decades could be reintegrated and, at times, transformed. Musical material is drawn from pieces written for the films “The Weeping Meadow”, “Eternity and a Day”, “Ulysses’ Gaze”, “The Suspended Step of the Stork”, “The Beekeeper”, “Landscape in the Mist” and “Voyage to Cythera” (all by Angelopoulos), “Happy Homecoming, Comrade” (by Lefteris Xanthopoulos), and “Rosa” (by Christoforos Christofis ), as well as music from “The Price of Love” by Tonia Marketaki and from Jules Dassin’s production of Chekhov’s “The Seagull”.

The overall effect is eloquently expressive, invariably slow and atmospheric, but with a variety of timbral colour from full orchestra and choir, to soloists and chamber settings, and with Karaindrou’s own pianism playing an essential linking role. Just looking at the titles you can gain a sense of what you might expect. Straightforward lyricism with a distinct Mediterranean flavour, the music is plangent and nostalgic, romantic and at times almost sentimental. With film music being such a strong source this is hardly a big surprise, and without having seen any of the movies listed my mind is filled with sun-soaked landscapes and narrow, winding streets, heartrendingly moving departures, subtle intrigues and intense romance. Karaindrou sums this up in her booklet notes: ‘as long as human beings exist, they dream of returning.’

Karaindrou’s music is suffused with her early experiences with the sounds of nature and folksong around her native village. None of the texts in the songs are given, so we are left the guess at the content of the vocal and choral numbers. This is unfortunate but not essential – as I mentioned before, the titles give as much information as you really need. This kind of thing is not normally my bag, but I have to admit it has a certain timeless quality. The sound is rich and full, with plenty of reverb and only a few coughs and rumbles from a fairly distant sounding audience. Maria Farantouri’s voice has a low, sandy texture which suits the music perfectly, and the orchestral and traditional instrumental soloists are all excellent. This issue could easily be handed out in place of this winters heating grant for pensioners – it’s so warm you can just close your eyes and be bathing in sunlight and pure blue skies.

Dominy Clements 




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