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REVIEW Plain text for smartphones & printers

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Mikis THEODORAKIS (b.1925)
Echowand lieder (songs by Mikis Theodorakis re-arranged for voice and piano by Sebastian Schwab and translated into German by Ina Kutulas)
1. Wildwaches Land [3:33]
2. Nihtoni [3:37]
3. Einsame Reise [3:41]
4. Medeas Entsagung [3:24]
5. Vergiftete Zeit [3:27]
6. Wie geheimnisvoll schön meine Liebste ist [5:30]
7. Fortunas Gewässer [3:43]
8. All meine Habe [5:27]
9. Ufterloses meer [4:01]
10. Esmeralda [3:26]
11. Oft sprichst du zu mir [4:57]
12. Abscheid [3:55]
13. Betörendes Lied [3:52]
Johanna Krumin (soprano)
Markus Zugehör (piano)
Peter Schöne (baritone, 2), Sebastian Schwab (flute, 2)
rec. Studio 2 Bavarian Radio, Munich, Germany, 15-17 October 2013 and 8 April 2014
WERGO WER51202 [52:34]

Most people who hear the name of Mikis Theodorakis will instinctively associate it with Zorba’s Dance. Many more will think of Greek folk music in general. Others may know of the theme music he wrote for the popular political film “Z” and for Serpico. Some will know of his stand against the coup of 21 April 1967 and the seven years Greece spent under authoritarian rule of Colonel Giorgios Papadopoulos who jailed the composer. To all those who are unaware of his many symphonic and chamber compositions this disc will give a completely new and different view of a composer of at least one thousand songs.

What we have here are Theodorakis’ melodies in the shape of 13 songs that the incredibly talented and extremely young composer/conductor and violinist Sebastian Schwab (b. 1993) has re-imagined in a more atonal setting. The music complements the German translations by Ina Kutulas of the original Greek songs written by seven poets. It is such a shame that English translations have not been included as they would have given many listeners a better understanding of what Theodorakis and the poets were trying to express. As it is I can only say that the songs are both beautiful and intriguing. The latter is made all the more so because of the lack of translation which inevitably results in frustration. It is equally frustrating not to be able to refer to the songs in their original format since we are unable to glean to what extent Sebastian Schwab has arranged them. An air of melancholy pervades most so, knowing Theodorakis, it would seem he chose poems that tell of oppression and resistance as he did in his music for the film State of Siege and when he set the poems of Pablo Neruda in Canto General.

These are wonderfully evocative and while the songs can be enjoyed for their own sake I really hope that one day someone will record them with complete translations included. It’s only a pity it wasn’t this version that did so since it was the singer Johanna Krumin who originally conceived the whole project that the then 19 year old Sebastian Schwab so elegantly brought to fruition. Krumin’s beautiful soprano voice conveys a degree of fragility that so perfectly reflects the heartbreak that clearly lies at the core of many of these songs. That Theodorakis was so thrilled by the result of a project that was effectively a ninetieth birthday present to him says it all.

Steve Arloff


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