Euripides wrote The Trojan Women in 415 B.C., but his tragic play about the aftermath of the fall of Troy continues to resonate many centuries after it was first performed. Eleni Karaindrou, best know for her film scores for Ulysses' Gaze and Eternity and a Day, composed this score for a 2001 production of The Trojan Women after being struck by the parallels between the ancient Greek story and the recent situation in the Balkans. Although she chose to use various folk instruments from around the Mediterranean, such as the lyre, an ancestor of the modern violin; the lauto, a Greek form of the lute; and the ney, an end-blown flute, her stark compositions are not folkloric recreations. Instead, she blends the ancient timbres of the instruments with a vocal chorus to create a sound that is not quite modern but not archaic either. Perhaps the best word to use in describing Karaindrou's austere, beautiful music is timeless.
Once we are aware that certain music has been written for film, it’s easy to wax poetic about said music’s visual associations. Yet I believe that one needn’t be aware of Greek composer Eleni Karaindrou’s filmic motivations in order to feel it in the same way, for hers imagines, recites, and sings the lament of a zeitgeist in decay. Karaindrou’s themes are potent yet familiar, even (if not especially) to those who’ve never heard them before. Brimming with tragedy and triumph alike, this is music not only for the fictional, but also for real strangers crossing paths in a world of mist and shadows.
An exceptional live recording, “Concert In Athens”, the tenth ECM release by Greek composer Eleni Karaindrou, incorporates moving performances by guests Kim Kashkashian and Jan Garbarek. The US violist and the Norwegian saxophonist have each made important contributions to Karaindrou’s music in the past, Garbarek with his playing on the film-score for The Beekeeper (see “Music for Films”) and Kashkashian as the key musical protagonist of “Ulysses’ Gaze”. Themes of both those films are revisited here, amongst much that is new. A primary emphasis is music written for theatre: the wide-reaching emotional scope of pieces for plays by Arthur Miller, Tennesee Williams and Edward Albee provides a wonderful context for bringing the guest musicians into contact with Eleni’s soloists, above all the brilliant oboist Vangelis Christopoulos.
Film composer Eleni Karaindou was born in the Greek mountain village of Teichio and raised in Athens, going on to study piano and music theory at the Hellenikon Odion. Relocating to Paris in 1969, she studied ethnomusicology for five years before returning to Greece to found the Laboratory for Traditional Instruments at the ORA Cultural Centre. Karaindrou's most successful collaboration was with filmmaker Theo Angelopoulos, with whom she first teamed in 1982, going on to score features including 1991's The Suspended Step of the Stork, 1995's Ulysses' Gaze, and 1998's Palme d'Or-winning Eternity and a Day.
Film and orchestral music composer Eleni Karaindrou has made a beautiful and moving statement with THE WEEPING MEADOW. A native of Greece, Karaindrou's influences are decidedly European, and within the music, one can hear the stamp of impressionistic composers like Erik Satie, avant garde innovators like Bartok, as well as Greek and Balkan folk forms. Karaindrou's music also traffics in 20th-century minimalism, creating tense, atmospheric spaces that feel empty and dense at once (one of the composer's frequently used motifs involves "patterns" that recall the tingling, polyphonic gestures of Phillip Glass). Although several themes are reprised throughout the album, the combination of ambient textures, folk phrasing (accordions, guitars, and violins figure prominently into several pieces), and lush orchestral work keep the music consistently interesting. The pieces are often set in a minor key, so a somber, melancholic mood prevails yet never feels forced or melodramatic, and the spacious, tasteful arrangements are in keeping with the ECM aesthetic.
Eleni Karaindrou – “Greece’s most eloquent living composer” in the words of Time magazine – was born in Teichio, a mountain village in central Greece. She still retains vivid memories of the sound world of her childhood: "the music of the wind, rain on the slate roof, running water. The nightingale's singing. And then the silence of the snow." Sometimes the mountains would echo to the sound of flutes and clarinets played at village festivals. “I still have a strong memory of the Byzantine melodies I heard in church and the continuous voices of the men accompanying the chanter," she has said. Resonances of this sound world, imbued with the history and suffering of her native land, have found their way into the many scores she has composed for film, TV and theatre in the past four decades.
In March 2005 Eleni Karaindrou presented what she called “a scenic cantata” at the Megaron in Athens, a tour through her music for film and theatre, with musical themes newly combined and contrasted. A live audio recording, “Elegy of the Uprooting”, was issued in 2006: “The two-CD set interweaves excerpts of her music from 13 different scores spanning more than two decades, although the irresistible congruence of the music is such that newcomers to Karaindrou’s oeuvre would be forgiven for thinking this is newly composed. The music seduces by its profound beauty, tenderness and candour.”. – International Record Review. Here is the video and audio document of the event.
These recordings which were assembled to keep alive the memory of unique moments and meetings, are those prime compositions that were written in a state of excitement, with the passion and innocence of first look. Eleni Karaindrou / From the liner notes: Music lovers of Eleni Karaindrou have every reason to rejoice. More than 3 hours of music, written for 22 plays, directed by Antonis Antypas (1986-2010) moved to a historical version - documentary on the Mikri Arktos, a 3 CD to accompany an elegant book, enriched with photographs of performances, reviews and information on the recordings. The cooperation of Eleni Karaindrou director and partner Anthony Antipa began in 1986 when he suggested she composed music for "Victory" by Loula Anagnostakis.
The stage cantata David features Eleni Karaindrou’s music for a unique piece of Aegean drama, a verse play with words by an unknown 18th century poet from the island of Chios. Its text (first published only in 1979), invites a musical response and Greek composer Karaindrou rises splendidly to the challenge, imaginatively moving between past and present in her settings for mezzo-soprano and baritone singers, instrumental soloists, choir and orchestra.