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Eleni KARAINDROU (b. 1939)
Concert in Athens
Requiem for Willy Loman [3:58]
Eternity Theme [1:58]
Closed Roads [5:36]
Waiting [2:07]
Voyage [2:10]
Invocation [2:26]
Tango of Love [1:41]
Tom’s Theme [1:35]
Laura’s Waltz [3:22]
Adagio [3:49]
After Memory [2:45]
Farewell Theme [4:27]
Seeking Theme [2:18]
Nostalgia Song [2:26]
Waltz of the Rain [2:44]
Adagio for Saxophone [2:48]
Dance [3:54]
Requiem for Willy Loman, var. [4:14]
Eleni Karaindrou (piano)
Kim Kashkashian (viola)
Jan Garbarek (tenor saxophone)
Vangelis Christopoulos (oboe)
Camerata Orchestra/Alexandros Myrat (conductor)
rec. live, 19 November 2010, Megaron, Athens
ECM NEW SERIES 2220 [54:28]

Eleni Karaindrou’s music has been part of the ECM catalogue for a while now, and Concert in Athens is the tenth release in a line of considerable investment including a 2 CD release of Elegy of the Uprooting (see review), as well as Ulysses’ Gaze and others (see review). Kim Kashkashian and Jan Garbarek are part of the ECM home team and have been associated with Karaindrou’s music in the past, and there are tracks here which collectors will recognise from Music for Films as well as Ulysses’ Gaze. There is a good deal of new material here as well however, with an emphasis on music written for the theatre. Eleni Karaindrou has embraced the possibilities for enhancing the plays of authors such as Arthur Miller, Tennessee Williams and Edward Albee, and the results are beautifully performed here.
 
As a live concert, this does have something of a stadium wash of sound over it, and the massed strings sound as if they are together most if not entirely all of the time – 21 seconds or so into Closed Roads is one such vaguely suspect moment. Everything sounds pretty heavily amplified, but the soloists are cleanly balanced and everyone gives full value for money.
 
There is no doubt about it; Eleni Karaindrou writes very good film/theatre music. My question with this kind of production is, why take it out of context in this way? Yes, there are little contrasts and clues, such as accordion which pops up in Tango of Love, but while everything is very well crafted, lovely and stylish, this kind of warm bathing in sweet sounds has about as much emotional impact as a Haydn Divertimento. Nothing wrong with those, but after not too long it’s time for something else please. This is entertaining and colourful, and the ‘why not?’ argument is every bit as strong as the ‘why?’, but short of pouring a bubble bath and relaxing or waltzing around pretending to be in your own little film, this CD is consumable and comestible, but also rather transparently disposable.
 
We all need a bit of light music from time to time, and this is a high quality spot to get your fix. If you like your André Rieu and fancy exploring a little further afield then this if a fine place to go.
 
Is this right? Am I missing something? Did this disc just catch me in a bad mood?
 
OK: let’s say it’s filled with subtle nuance, with deceptively simple but remarkably sophisticated musical contributions to the visual and the cinematic, and therefore to our imaginations. The quality of the performances are a strong aspect of the concert, but it is not so much the character of the players which elevates the music and ourselves onto higher planes but the music itself which inspires a quasi-magical creative flow from the musicians. It’s not schmaltz or sentiment which moves us, but a honed musical focus which is directed straight at our emotions, hitting the spot every time.
 
Is that better? To be honest, I just don’t know any more. If I hunt out my old recordings of Nino Rota’s music for Le notti di Cabiria or Amarcord or La Dolce Vita it seems the golden age for this kind of film music is alas long past; that or I just long for something distinctive and memorable. This is not really my cup of tea, but it might just be your Silver Tip Darjeeling. If you don’t try it, you will never know…
 
Dominy Clements

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