Elegy of Uprooting (ECM)
Reviewed by David Lynch, Fri., Jan. 19, 2007
Elegy of the Uprooting (ECM)
What if Shakespeare had combined his best a poem here, a play there, a sonnet to top it off into a meta-work? And what if this masterpiece illuminated the author's vast talents while also fashioning a resonant new narrative? Greek master composer Eleni Karaindrou has done just that with her 2-CD Elegy of the Uprooting, lucky No. 7 for the renown ECM imprint. Classically trained, including Sorbonne ethnomusicology studies, Karaindrou started scoring for the stage and screen three decades ago. In revisiting nine of her scores, Karaindrou discovered an essential current: exile, and its surmounting. Karaindrou tackled this weighty theme with a vocal choir, traditional instrument ensemble, heavenly solo vox by Maria Farantouri, orchestra, and the composer on piano. All told, 110 musicians. Given its title, this music is indeed bittersweet; the night of joy's daylight, knowing only embrace, not avoidance, will vanquish pain. Stylistically, Karaindrou expertly employs old and new: traditional Mediterranean, melismatic instrumentals, Euripides, her grandfather's mandolin, orthodox plainchant, and Western classical. The recording is so clear and warm a flower-opening spring day that it's anomalous to hear the copious applause after "The Weeping Meadow," the second disc's closer, signifying the end of this historic live recording. Absolutely stunning.