Elegy of the Uprooting
Artist: Eleni Karaindrou
Produced by: Manfred Eicher
Distributed by: ECM Records
Reviewed by Melissa Minners
Born in Teichion, a mountain village in Central Greece, Eleni Karaindrou has an extensive musical background. In addition to studying piano and theory at the Odion, Eleni studied ethnomusicology, orchestration and conducting in Paris, and was a researcher in ethnomusicology at Paris's National Museum of Arts and Traditions. She has written music for over 20 feature films and 40 theatrical plays. She has also written music for television shows and radio plays. Her talents are celebrated not only in Greece, but worldwide. She has earned numerous awards for her work including the Golden Cross of the Order of Honor from the president of Greece.
In March, 2005, over a span of three days, Eleni Karaindrou performed some of her most famous compositions at the Athens Concert Hall in Megaron, Athens, Greece. Over 6000 people came to the performance. The performances were recorded and compiled into a two-CD set entitled Elegy of the Uprooting. The compilation contains music Eleni Karaindrou has composed for theatrical plays as well as motion picture films – The Weeping Meadow, The Beekeeper, Trojan Woman, Ulysses’ Gaze, Voyage to Cythera, and more. Accompanied by vocalist Maria Farantouri, the Camerata Orchestra, the ERT Choir and conductor Alexandros Myrat, Eleni Karaindrou’s recorded performance marks her first concert recording for ECM Records.
The music found on this two-CD set is astounding – often times awe-inspiring. When one thinks of Greece, they are reminded of the mythological beliefs of the people, their love for philosophy, as well as their love for life. Both of these things are present throughout Karaindrou’s composition, from the awesomeness and often-times wrathfulness of the Greek Gods to the thoughtfulness of ancient Greek philosophers to the love exhibited toward one another by the people of this beautiful nation. Hardships and trials, happiness and adventure, spirit and love – all emotions find their way into these powerful musical compositions. Each track of Elegy of the Uprooting is so powerfully written and performed, the result is music of epic proportions. It is easy to see how such incredible composition could find its way into the soundtracks of movie and theater.
What makes the performances even more enjoyable is the introduction of exotic instruments, bringing a richer sound to the traditional oboes, violins, flutes, clarinets, trumpets, piano, etc. found in ordinary orchestras. Present in this recording are the sounds of the Constantinople lyra (a string instrument that is somewhat of a cousin to the violin), the bender (a frame drum most commonly found in North Africa), the ney (and end-blown flute featured predominantly in Middle Eastern music), the daouli (a two-headed drum often used in Greek folk music), the kanonaki (a triangular-shaped instrument fitted with some 72 plastic strings), the santouri (a trapezoidal-shaped instrument fitted with 100-140 bronze/steel and copper strings), and more.
Included with this musical set is a booklet containing photos from the concert performance and words from Eleni Karaindrou, as well as information about the recording. With a total of 38 tracks, and a price of $35.00 (U.S.), Elegy of the Uprooting is certainly worth the money and would make a perfect addition to any music lover’s library.