Theodorakis, M.: Greek Carnaval Suite / Raven

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The present recording unites two very different works by Mikis Theodorakis. The ballet suite created between 1947 and 1953 and originally entitled Greek Carnaval, and the elegiac composition Raven of 1970, music set to a poem by the famous Greek poet and Nobel Prize winner Giorgos Seferis, the final version of which was not completed before 1993. Both works were not only created in different decades, but also have a completely different character and form. While Carnaval, the final title, is symphonic programme music, Raven is a kind of lyric "orchestral song" for mezzo-soprano, flute, harps and string orchestra, or, as Mikis Theodorakis himself wrote in the programme of the world premiere of Raven, 'an unusual work within my complete œuvre as to its form, a kind of musical dream, standing out, beyond reality'.

The special feature and uniting element of both recordings is their background of origin. Both are works from the time of his imprisonment. In addition, "Carnaval & Raven" are first recordings.

The creation of "Carnaval" was influenced by the Greek civil war. In August 1947 Theodorakis wrote the first sketches on the island of Ikaria, a place of exile to which he had been deported shortly after the beginning of the civil war. From fellow prisoners he heard the folk song Captain Andreas Zeppos, the melody of which was used in the first part of "Carnaval". The final version of the ballet composition commissioned by the Opera of Rome was completed in 1953. But it was not before 14 April 1954 that Greek Carnaval could be performed for the first time by the Greek ballet ensemble at the Opera of Rome. The choreographer was the legendary Rallou Manou, the conductor of the opera orchestra was Andreas Paridis. The plot of the ballet had been created by the two important authors Vassilis Rotas and Spiros Vassiliou. The work's greatest success was in Paris in 1958, in a revised version entitled Le feu aux poudres. Finally, parts of Carnaval were used in the most successful ballet composition by Theodorakis, in the Zorba ballet suite of 1987.

"Raven", a dark mysterious poem, a tribute to Edgar Allan Poe (and his poem of the same name), which Giorgos Seferis wrote in the remote Albanian town of Koritsa in early 1937, served Mikis Theodorakis as basis for the composition of the same name which he created between 7 and 15 January 1970 as prisoner of the junta. A 'chanson fleuve' with a prevailing mood of tragedy, dedicated to his friend and fellow composer Jani Christou who had been killed in an accident shortly before. In his prison diary, Theodorakis wrote that 'the "world premiere" took place in the prison kitchen with Petros. We sat at a table and made music, using a piece of iron and a bottle of beer. Later we enjoyed the beer.' The final version of the seven-part work for mezzo-soprano, flute, harps and string orchestra was not created until 1994 and was performed by Alexandra Papatzaikou, The Radio Choir of Athens and the Greek Radio Orchestra under the direction of the composer at the Athens concert hall on 2 March of the same year.

The present CD was recorded with the St. Petersburg State Academic Capella Symphony Orchestra at the Capella Concert Hall of St. Petersburg in November 1995 under the direction of Mikis Theodorakis himself. Further details on the origin and background of Carnaval & Raven including rare photos are contained in the 24-page trilingual booklet.
Item number INT 33482
Barcode 750447334823
Release date 7/1/2003
Category Vocal
Number of units 1
Classical Artist Gravas, Alexandra
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