Good day to all
This is really a very interesting thread, I hadn't noticed it till now. I did not go through all posts, however from a random reading, I saw some very interesting discs.
I would like to place my opinion (I should rather say: "my preferences") here, based of course on my musical background, cultivation and - consequently - culture, developed through the musical listenings of mine for more than 5 decades.
These preferences correspond, not only to the quality of the recordings, but also to the music events themselves. Besides, there would be no meaning to have a quality recording, if the music was just - excuse my wording - crap.
Initially, a smal introduction about Greek music, which comes first in my preferences.
Greek music has had several periods. The most important one was from the late 50s till the late 70s. We call it the period of the "Artistic Popular Music". The Artisitic Popular Music had to be distinguished from the common Popular Music.
Greek Popular Music started at the beginning of the 20th Century, when large masses of Greek population migrated from the west coast of Turkey, a traditonally Greek territory, called Ionia. Those Greeks had their own long music tradition and they carried it, among with a lot of other cultural characterisitics to the mainland of Greece. Popular music was then developed throughout the whole 20th century, in parallel with Greek folk music, but it remained most of the time in the dark, as it was never officilally recognized. Its main characterisitics were:
- Short poemic lyrics, usually speaking about love, the everyday worries and troubles of the people and their "blues"
- Singing of the lyrics by a man or woman, in a long-drawling voice.
- The accompanying instruments were mainly string instruments, violin and lute (this is similar to balalaika, but larger and it has more bass) and then lyre (this is an instrument, similar to violin, but it rests on the thigh/leg of the player, not on the shoulder, like the violin) and finally the Bouzouki. The Bouzouki was actulally introduced later and very often was used in conjunction with the violin and some shorts of drums.
The Artistic Popular Music was somehow "invented" and created by two great Greek composers, both of which used the traditional Popular Music as their basis and inspiration, but then they made their own school, which swept the musical events in the country (and much more beyond the country borders) like a storm and afterwards became extremely well known worldwide. These two composers had a parallel life, each one with his own class, sometimes collaborating together, but never competing one against the other.
The first, well known all over the world, mainly of his music to the film "Never on Sunday"
, is the late Manos Hatzidakis
. A great composer, who has made thousands of music works, presented either in albums or in single 45rpm discs. Also, a composer of film music, dressing with his music more that 80 films.
The second is Mikis Theodorakis
. He is also well known to the world, mainly with his music to the films "Zorba the Greek"
, but also well known for the composing of the poem "Axion Esti" (word-by-word it means: "It is Worthy", but the meaning is much more than that) of the Nobel prized poet Odysseus Elytis
. His work is also huge, thousands of songs and discs, almost in every format. He did not only composed Artistic Popular Music, but also Classic and other formats.
From those two composers, I can (hardly) select two works, mainly for their music.
From Manos Hatzidakis my mostly beloved work is his instrumental work: "Giokonda's Smile"
. I was lucky one to get it in vinyl, when it was recently re-issued by the producing company. It is a wonderful orchaestral work, where the music flows and flies, and the recent re-issue is very well recorded.
From Mikis Teodorakis, who takes the first place in my heart, between these two equals, I choose of course his magnificent oratorium "Axion Esti". I also have it in vinyl, although it is from its first issuing in the early seventies, but I keep it well preserved. Its recording is not very special, it reflects the means and the limited technology, available then, during the production of the disc. However, its unique execution, especially because it was recorded live in a a large theater, with the vocals of Gregoris Bithikotsis (Theodorakis's most significant singer), the chorus of Thaleia Byzantiou and Theodore Dimitrief as the chanter. From this disc, I can only offer you the picture of its cover and a link to one of most significant music parts, named: "Temples to the scheme of the Sky". Here they are:
And the link with the music. I susggest for someone, who may be curious enough, to open it and listen carefully to the music:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aFxVyvj34AU
Apart from the above, I consider the following as first class music pieces and recordings:
Telarc's Tchaikovsky's 1812 Overture SACD and DVD-Audio
discs, with Erich Kunzel & Cincinnati Pops Orchestra
Bedrich Smetana's Ma Vlast (My homeland), containing the extraordinary piece: Die Moldau (The Moldava River). I have it in vinyl, with the Chech Philarmonic Orchestra, conducted by Vaclav Neumann. It is a wonderful recording, but most of all, a wonderful piece of music art.
Have a nice afternoon.