Eleni Karaindrou: Elegy of the Uprooting (ECM New Series 5506 & 1952/53)

Eleni Karaindrou
Elegy of the Uprooting

Maria Farantouri voice
Vangelis Christopoulos oboe
Socratis Sinopoulos Constantinople lyra, laouto
Maria Bildea harp
Konstantinos Raptis bayan
Sergiu Nastasa violin
Renato Ripo violoncello
Stella Gadedi flute
Nikos Guinos clarinet
Sopcratis Anthis trumpet
Spyros Kazianis bassoon
Vangelis Skouras French horn
Aris Dimitriadis mandolin
Christos Tsiamoulis ney
Panos Dimitrakopoulos kanonaki
Andreas Katsiyiannis santouri
Andreas Papas bendir, daouli
Eleni Karaindrou piano
Hellenic Radio and Television Choir
Antonis Kontogeorgiou choirmaster
Camerata Orchestra
Alexandros Myrat conductor
Recorded live March 27, 2005 at Megaron (Hall of the Friends of Music), Athens
Engineers: Nikos Espialidis, Andreas Mandopoulos, and Bobby Blazoudakis
Produced by Manfred Eicher

“What am I, if not a collector of vanished gazes?”
–Theo Angelopoulos, Ulysses’ Gaze

Elegy of the Uprooting condenses two decades of work by Eleni Karaindrou into what the Greek composer calls a “scenic cantata.” This is no mere retrospective, but a gravid musical statement in which the listener’s soul is carefully unfolded to reveal the sounds hidden within. Excerpting 13 scores for film and stage, this concert pulls out the red threads running through Karaindrou’s non-diegetic oeuvre with stunning video and audio clarity.

Of the 110 musicians seen in this live DVD—including an orchestra, chorus, and ensemble of traditional instruments—many of the soloists have been working with Karaindrou for many years, and their dedication shows. Of note are…

Vangelis Christopoulos on oboe:

Socratis Sinopoulos on the Constantinople lyra/Maria Bildea on harp:

Konstantinos Raptis on the bayan:

Vangelis Skouras on French horn:

Aris Dimitriadis on mandolin:

Panos Dimitrakopoulos on kanonaki/Christos Tsiamoulis on ney:

and the composer herself at the piano:

Much of the music will be familiar to ECM enthusiasts: Ulysses’ Gaze, The Suspended Step of the Stork, Eternity and a Day, The Weeping Meadow, and Euripedes Trojan Women feature heavily in this wide-ranging program, with the latter two in particular providing a larger thematic framework. Lesser known works such as the stunning Rosa’s Aria—from the film by Christoforos Christofis and reinterpreted here with total corporeal commitment by the legendary Maria Farantouri—should excite veteran and new listeners alike.

The staging was overseen by Manfred Eicher and is accordingly minimal. A large screen behind the musicians displays artfully arranged stills and clips from Angelopoulos’s films, as well as some computer generated imagery of swaying reeds, falling rain, and shooting flames.

It’s a joy and a privilege to see such a synergistic group of musicians banding together to share such doleful beauty, and to see the physical process of it all, the sheer assembly of talent and logistics required in putting together such a performance.

In all this rhetoric lately of carbon footprints and the detrimental impact of human activity on the physical environment, it’s easy to forget that our creativity often leaves the most “eco-friendly” impressions. Karaindrou has created for the world a statement without tangible shape, a visceral wave of melancholy into which we may project a semblance of ourselves. Like the water that figures so prominently in Angelopoulos’s films, her music ebbs and flows in spite of our foibles.

Elegy of the Uprooting is also available in this 2-CD set. I highly recommend both, for each is its own experience.

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