“Each of my compositions seems to be part of a mosaic which takes on its ultimate form very slowly through the years”, Eleni Karaindrou once said, and the larger picture becomes both clearer and more finely-detailed with each new album. Concert in Athens is her tenth release on ECM. It is an exceptional documentation of a performance from 2010, marking a triumphant return to the Athens Concert Hall, the setting for the “Elegy of the Uprooting” shows five years earlier.
A new programme offers new insights, particularly when participating friends include guest soloists Jan Garbarek and Kim Kashkashian, both of whom have made major contributions to the realization of Karaindrou’s work in the past – Garbarek with his evocative playing of the themes for The Beekeeper (reprised on the album Music for Films) and Karaindrou as the key musical protagonist of Ulysses’ Gaze. Over the years both artists have periodically returned to join Eleni for special events. Ulysses’ Gaze and Beekeeper themes are reprised here, along with music from other films of the late Theo Angelopoulos - Dust of Time, Eternity and a day, Landscape in the Mist and Journey to Cythera, all of them revealing new facets as Kashkashian and Garbarek are featured alongside Eleni’s team of soloists (with oboist Vangelis Christopoulos especially striking). There is also much here that is new or heard on CD for the first time including compositions originally written for theatre productions directed by Antonis Antypas including Who’s afraid of Virginia Woolf? by Edward Albee, The Glass Menagerie by Tennessee Williams as well as Jules Dassin’s production of Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman. The differing demands of the theatre music open up a new emotional range for the soloists to explore. Eleni: “I sought to share with them memories from past and more recent voyages in the worlds of theatre and poetry. With Jan I plunged deep into the fascination and torment of Arthur Miller, of Edward Albee and Tennessee Williams...” The album opens and closes with Garbarek’s intensely brooding saxophone, accompanied by Karaindrou’s piano and the string orchestra, playing the “Requiem for Willie Loman” from Death of a Salesman. Meanwhile, “Kim’s sturdy and sensitive bow swept us on a journey to Laurä’s fragile world in The Glass Menagerie, having first traversed the Closed Roads [one of several newly-arranged pieces of Karaindrou concert music] with all the passion and unmatched internal nobility which distinguish her work.” The scope of the music is further expanded with three charming miniatures inspired by M. Karagatsis’s novel “Number Ten , and written for the Greek television series of the same name. (ECM Records)