Donnerstag, 2. September 2021

Mikis Theodorakis - Axion Esti - Lobgepriesen sei (Eterna, 1983)

Mikis Theodorakis, the renowned Greek composer and Marxist firebrand who waged a war of words and music against an infamous military junta that imprisoned and exiled him as a revolutionary and banned his work a half century ago, died on Thursday at his home in central Athens. He was 96. Rest in peace!

This is a wonderful recording of what can be called Theodorakis' most prolific composition ever.

"Axion Esti" ("praised be") on texts of Nobel prize winning author Elytis combines elements of byzantine-, western classical- and greek folkmusic. Written in the late fifties for classical and popular orchestras and male soloists, recitant and choir and first recorded in 1964 with Bithikotsis as the popular singer it soon became theodorakis' best selling album within Greece. The rightwing government of that time had actively discouraged musicians to take part in the recording process which meant that the score was not given its full scope and potential but it still remains an undeniable classic. A few other recordings have been made since, among them one in swedish and a new greek version with Yorgos Dalaras as soloist and Theodorakis conducting, a version which because of a dull sounding live recording has never much appealed to me.

So here we have "Lobgepriesen sei". One has to get over the initial shock of hearing this "greekest of greek music" sung in german but it soon becomes apparent that the translation has been done with the utmost respect for the colour and the cadanse of text and music and that the live performance is outstanding. Theodorakis himself conducts the east german musicians and Lakis Karnezis appears as bouzouki player as he did on the original version. - Pieter U. Hendriks

The titles of the three sections make it clear that "Axion esti" is a liturgy, albeit a secular one, which follows a threefold development line: the poet´s birth, suffering and visionary foresight in the form of a lyrical first person is supported at a second level by the history of the Greek nation - from the "genesis" of the liberation of Crete (home to the poet Elytis) from the Turkish domination in 1912, through the "passion" during the second world war, to the utopia of a more peaceful future. A third, higher level is achieved by a general, human hope of winning the eternal battle of good against evil and creating a new, better world.

A1 I. Genesis (I Iénesis) 5:56
II. Passion (Ta Páthi)
A2 1. Und hier, so sieh! Bin ich (Idhú Eghó Lipón) 2:39
A3 2. Lesung: Der Marsch an die Front (I Poría Pros To Métopo) 4:10
A4 3. Nur diese eine Schwalbe (Éna To Chelidhóni) 3:03
B1 4. Berge um mich her mein fester Grund (Ta Themélia Mu Sta Vuná) 5:23
B2 5. Mit Dem Lüster der Sterne (Me To Líchno Tu Ástru) 3:17
B3 6. Lesung: Der große Exodus (I Megháli Éksodhos) 3:35
B4 7. Höre, reine Sonne der Gerechtigkeit (Tis Dhikeosínis Ílie) 4:30
C1 8. Intermezzo 3:14
C2 9. Purpurn färbte Mmch das Blut (Tis Aghápis Émata) 4:04
C3 10. Kirchen, gestickt ins Lichtmuster des runden Himmelsdoms (Naí Sto Schíma T'Uranú) 3:09
C4 11. Lesung: Weissagung (Profitkón) 6:23
C5 12. Ich öffne den Mund (Ànigho To Stóma Mu) 3:26
D1 13. Ich ziehe in ein Land hinab, fernab von hier (Se Chóra Makriní) 2:44
D2 III. Lobgepriesen sei (Axion Estí) 16:06

This is a live recording from the concert on October 16, 1982 in Leipzig with Gothar Stier (bariton), Gunter Emmerlich (bass), Friedrich Wilhelm Junge (speaker), the "Beethoven-Chor des VEB Elektromaschinenbau Sachsenwerk Dresden", the "FDJ-Chor der EOS Kreuzschule Dresden", the "Kinder-Kammerchor der Dresdner Philharmonie", the "Orchester der Hochschule für Musik "Carl Maria von Weber" Dresden", directed by Mikis Theodorakis.

Mikis Theodorakis - Axion Esti - Lobgepriesen sei (Eterna, 1983)
(256 kbps, cover art included)

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