THESSALONIKI, March 2006
Greek discourse, instrumental melody.
Lisa Xanthopoulou and the State Orchestra in a stand-out concert.
Review: ANTONIS I. KONSTANTINIDIS
With a reading from Thucydides' "History", the political commentator (and former editor) Kostas Zouraris, lifted the curtain and attempted to draw the music-loving audience directly, and in perhaps the most immediate way possible, into the conceptual world of the concert that followed. Quite a unique concert, which, by its very title, and aside from its thematic, attitudinal, and aesthetic diversification, drifted far from the familiar, usual, and to a great extent, anticipated concerts of an orchestra.
Word and Music
With the lifting of the initial veil of mystery, musical poetry found its source of inspiration, the notes revealing the timeless power of the Greek language, the music melding with the classical beauty of ancient texts, setting the scene for an experience unlike any other in Greece. It was an unforgettable and poetic musical evening. An evening with the Thessaloniki State Orchestra, where the philosophic texts, the tragedies, and myths, stories timeless and mundane, in dramatic readings by Yiannis Fertis and the compelling Eva Kotamanidou, in the accessible Modern Greek language, inserted between the aptly chosen pieces from spiritually connected musical works, brought to mind something once intentional, but in our times, suppressed. The heritage of ancient Greek civilization was not just a matter of profound interest for European intellectuals and artists of the Renaissance and Enlightenment, but also a spiritual starting point, a cultural spark, an unparalleled and virtual aesthetic standard.
The musical compositions, whose initial thematic inspiration was drawn from that very past, and which were interpreted with characteristic aplomb in the concert that we attended, were undeniable proof of the above premise.
The choice of works, covering a wide historical range, contributed to the interpretational difficulty of the attempt. From the classicism of Gluck, the romanticism of Mendelssohn, to the contemporary path of Bernstein, the aesthetic diversification and stylistic search of the ages, as they were sketched by the personal touch of the composer, are brought to today's interpretation demanding a delicate, discrete, yet distinctive handling which will include, expand, but not overlook the bounds of the necessary interpretational balance. That balance, shaping stylistic rigor with aesthetic freedom, was perhaps the most striking technical element of the concert that we attended. The State Orchestra revealed its interpretational and adaptive abilities with utmost ease under the baton of Lisa Xanthopoulou.
We paid careful attention to the maestro from Thessaloniki at the podium, and can only convey with great enthusiasm and without any equivocation our most positive impressions. Especially accurate in her conducting, detailed in her reading, and with a proverbial and exemplary plasticity in her movement, Ms Xanthopoulou was absolute in her interpretational aspirations - and she succeeded marvelously. We were also left with positive impressions of the participation of violinist Giorgos Kandilides. His performance of Bernsteinäs demanding "convivial" serenade was excellent. As to the singers, baritone Dimitris Platanias was especially solid and confident, Antonia Kalogyrou was dramatically forceful, and mezzo Eleni Liona was convincingly at ease.