ELENI KARAINDROU: Elegy of the Uprooting – Maria Farantouri, voice/13-piece ensemble with the composer at the piano/Traditional instruments ensemble/Hellenic Radio-TV Choir/Camerata orchestra/Alexandros Myrat cond. – ECM New Series 1952/53 (2 CDs), 1:39:26 total time ****:

This was a live concert held in Athens, featuring a variety of selections by the Greek composer and pianist created for both films and the theatre.  The general theme thru all the works is the pain and sadness of uprooting or exile from one’s beloved homeland, which has been the story for many unfortunates around the world but specifically in this case for the area of the Balkans. The majority of the music comes from Karaindrou’s scores for seven films by the director Theo Angelopoulos: The Weeping Meadow, Eternity and a Day, Ulysses’ Gaze, The Suspended Step of the Stork, Landscape in the Mist, The Beekeeper, and Voyage to Cythera. The films are known for their long meditative shots, lonely landscapes, and hypnotic emotional effect on the viewer. The music beautifully supports the filmmaker’s efforts. There are 19 tracks on each disc.

Although the vocal numbers are in Greek and there are no translations, the feelings of sadness and loss are clear from the timbre of the voice and its accompaniment. The arrangements for the various instruments, string orchestra and choir are lovely and atmospheric in the extreme.  Solo instruments such as French horn, accordion and harp are skillfully integrated into the scores.  Taking in this sad but beautiful music made me want to see the other four Angelopoulos features which I haven’t yet viewed.  Sonics are of course up to ECM’s very high standards. It would have been nice to have just a couple sentences about each specific selection (though all the performing information is listed), but that’s not ECM’s modus operandi.

 – John Sunier