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Mikis THEODORAKIS (b.1925)
Rhapsody for cello and orchestra (1996) [26:47]
Rhapsody for guitar and orchestra (1983 rev.1998) [31:50]
Sebastian Hess (cello)
Franz Halasz (guitar)
Nuremberg Symphony Orchestra/John Carewe
rec. 3-5 May 2006, Studio of the Nuremberg Symphony. Bayern4Klassik. DDD
INTUITION CLASSICS INT 3 3399 2 [58:43] 


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.

Rob Barnett


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