Showing posts with label Greek music. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Greek music. Show all posts

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Mourn, Be Fierce. One Life to Live

From the balcony: Arvanitaki at Carnegie Hall 2/1/2014. 
Eleftheria Arvanitaki enthralled a packed Carnegie Hall with her songs Feb. 1.
They included heavy laments, but these miroloi were uplifting in their poetic pain. Such songs are not wallowing in sadness, but what one blogger calls "stoic innoculation." It's a very Greek sentiment, aided by the uplift of the bouzouki. And, last Saturday, there was innocence conveyed in the breaks in Arvanitaki's voice, and a collective sway we felt whispering the lyrics together. The New York Times review notes that she draws on rebetika that is "mournful and fierce." Rebetika is the Asia Minor musical-blues influence that arrived in the 1920s with devastated refugees forced to abandon their homes.
I can't get enough of one Arvanitaki song, "το παράπoνο," ("The Lament"), which is an adaptation of an Odysseas Elytis poem. The poetry doesn't translate easily. It roughly says that one may set out to do one thing in life and find, looking back, that it was as if someone else was acting. It concludes: "a second life, there isn't." However, halfway through one's life, there is the other half to live ...
Εδώ στου δρόμο τα μισά 
 έφτασε η ώρα να το πω 
Άλλα είναι εκείνα που αγαπώ 
 γ'αλλού γ'αλλού ξεκίνησα. 
 Στ' αληθινά στα ψεύτικα 
 το λέω και τ' ομολογώ 
Σαν να 'μουν άλλος και όχι εγώ 
 μες' στη ζωή πορεύτηκα 
 Όσο κι αν κανείς προσέχει 
 όσο κ'αν τα κυνηγά 
Πάντα πάντα θα 'ναι αργά 
 δεύτερη ζωή δεν έχει.
Below, Arvanitaki sings the song To Parapono, with more of her hits to follow. The song is on a 1996 album of Greek poetry set to music called,"Songs For The Months" explained on a great music blog. Other quiet songs I recommend: Καθρεφτίζω το νου and Παράπονο (Ξενιτιά).  In New York, her orchestra included Armenian oud player Ara Dinkjian. More from a clever British blogger who says musical laments, for Greeks, are "not wallowing in sadness, but stoic innoculation." Here's the ANT1 Greek interview with Arvanitaki about the New York show.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

A Greek Tango

In the Greek movie The Christmas Tango, the climax is one tango of several minutes that connects two people for a lifetime.
Actually, three people are connected, but you have to see the film to get the love triangle. If you needed proof that the tango craze has made its way to Athens, consider that Greek superstar musician George Dalaras (Γιώργος Νταλάρας) sings the high-drama theme song, "Μια στιγμή για πάντα," (lyrics: One Moment For Always). Translation isn't perfect, but select lines:

Πάντα εσυ του πόθου μου είσαι το νησί, Always you are my lusted-after island
πάντα η χαμένη μου πατρίδα είσαι εσυ,  always you are my longed-after country
στην ξενιτιά μου η μονακριβη ελπίδα,  in my exile, my only hope
πάντα ο φάρος στο χαμό μου,  always a beacon in my loss
η αμμουδιά στο γυρισμο μου, the sand beneath my return
και στη δίψα το νερό μου είσαι εσύ... and in thirst, you are my water
Κι αν ο χρονος μας λυγίσει,  and if the years bend us,
κι ο καιρός μας πολεμήσει,  and time fights us,
τι μπορεί να μας χωρίσει, what can separate us
τόση αγάπη πως να σβήσει, with so much love to extinguish?
Χίλιες θάλασσες θ’ ανοίξω,  A thousand seas I’ll open
χίλιες μοίρες θα νικησω, a thousand degrees I will overcome
κι οταν θα σε συναντήσω, and when I meet you
θα `ναι μια στιγμή για πάντα,  it will be a moment for always,
αγκαλιά στο Θεό, in the arms of God
πάντα, σ’ ενα τάνγκο για δυο,  forever a tango for two
μαζι για πάντα... together always .....

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Listen To Alkinoos Ioannides

Guitar, raw vocal folk melodies and poetic lyrics are what engage you at an Αlkinoos concert - and the singer-guitarist may come to a big-city venue near you in 2012.
A pianist friend from Greece told me four years ago that Alkinoos is "the best new musician Greece has right now." And my Athens cousins gave Alkinoos a thumbs up long ago.
The beauty of Alkinoos is that he is an anti-star. And his music and lyrics are his own - those of a lover-rebel. Even the album art is a family affair - his father is a painter.
From Cyprus, the singer is in his 40s. Just as he is not afraid to show his grey hair, he is not afraid to express a feeling in a weird octave. Sometimes there are English horns, recorders or a stringed instrument. It makes you listen. And the words and instrumentation deliver.
His new album, "local stranger," is a best-of CD that I picked up at his only NYC show last night. It's presented in English, lyrics all in Greek, and it is really mellow and accessible and addictive, even if you don't know Greek. Favorites songs:
The Pilgrim
Afternoon at the Tree (apologies for the YouTube remix)
All Love Dreams Of
This Changing World
You can buy it on Amazon!
Alkinoos plays small venues when he tours; I only heard about the show from a last-minute, local poster. He raps, does a waltz, includes bouzouki, and even tries some orchestral arrangements.
Some critics can't relate to the rock component in some of his songs, but Greek youth have been getting hard rock in volumes for decades. Those same kids also hear traditional music. One more lesson in the hodge-podge that is Greece.
Alkinoos ended last night's show with an acoustic, un-microphoned Cypriot lullaby that his grandmother once sang to him.
Post show, we went out for salad, Halloumi cheese and a Cypriot ground-pork-and-mint meze you sprinkle with lemon.
Here is the Alkinoos Ioannides tour schedule.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Bouzouki's Lending Hand

A facebook friend in Greece dug up this old song from an old movie of the same name called  "Μιας Πεντάρας Νειάτα" or "Three-penny Loans." The singer, Maria Douraki, says at one point, at least they have the Lord and Panagia. Maybe the Greek government should do a WPA-style program to revive acoustic bouzouki music. If it didn't help the economy, at least it would improve the mood.