CULTURE

Hadjidakis treasures re-released

Nine years have elapsed since Manos Hadjidakis’s departure but the late composer’s work remains as vital as ever. The latest spurt of activity concerning the late composer’s output includes imminent album re-releases, the re-publication of a book, «Ta Keimena tou Tritou,» by Exantas Press, as well as the posthumous premiere of the composer’s «Amorgos» at the Herod Atticus Theater along with an older classic, «Magnus Eroticus.» All, however, will be preceded by an English-language version of «Reflections» as the opening event at the 11th Biennale for Young European and Mediterranean Artists in Athens in early June. Popular local acts Eleftheria Arvanitaki and Alkinoos Ioannidis will perform the album’s material, which Hadjidakis wrote during an extended stay in New York. The work was originally released with the New York Rock’n’Roll Ensemble, an outfit that fused rock and classical sounds. Just days later, Seirios – the high-caliber label founded by Hadjidakis late in his career as a means of safeguarding artistic control over his work – and local electronica artist Constantinos Beta of the now-defunct group Stereo Nova, have a surprise in store. The label plans to release a modern electronica take of older Hadjidakis compositions by Stereo Nova’s former frontman. Beta has a special reason to offer a new look at Hadjidakis’s material. The composer, whom Beta knew, had encouraged the budding artist to focus on music prior to his eventual team-up with Stereo Nova in the early 1990s. The Minos-EMI label, which has released a portion of Hadjidakis’s huge body of work recorded over a four-decade period, will also soon re-release several albums, all digitally remastered, and featuring the original detailed liner notes. The re-issues, scheduled for release late this month, are: 1987’s «Laiki Agora,» a collection of 30 songs featuring Elli Paspala, Ilias Liougos, Vassilis Lekkas and Giorgos Dalaras; 1986’s «Roman Agora;» «Gia tin Eleni,» which was written in 1977 but not released until 1985 with Maria Dimitriadi as its vocalist and «Heimoniatikos Ilios» with lyrics by Nikos Gatsos, a project that was penned in 1983 and originally released in 1987 with Manolis Mitsias on vocals. Other re-releases include 1986’s «Skoteini Imera,» featuring lyrics by Gatsos and vocalist Maria Farandouri. The late eminent artist Yiannis Tsarouchis wrote liner lyrics for this album, while another late artist, Nobel Prize-winning poet Odysseas Elytis, designed the cover. The re-release of the book «Ta Keimena tou Tritou,» a book based on weekly commentary offered by Hadjidakis while he was in charge at state radio’s classical-music oriented Third Program, is also a highlight. The book’s content, which explores philosophical subjects beyond current affairs – Hadjidakis abandoned his radio post in 1987 – therefore remains as relevant as ever, and will be published with an accompanying CD featuring the composer’s voice reading three texts. «From the moment Frankenstein is turned into decoration for a youngster’s bedroom, then the world is heading, with mathematical precision, toward its obliteration,» Hadjidakis observes in one comment. «This is not because the youngster has ceased to be afraid, but because he or she has grown accustomed to being afraid. And, as I see it, I fear nothing more than the brain of a chicken,» he goes on to say. «Amorgos,» set for its premier this summer at the Herod Atticus Theater, was composed by Hadjidakis on the strength of inspiration stretching back to his youth. Hadjidakis singled out the poem of the same name by Gatsos as a favorite. His words, noted on the first page of the composition’s score, read: «A Poem by Nikos Gatsos for three vocalists, choir, and 18 musicians, work No. 40 (1970-1987).» Hadjidakis, who passed away in 1994, had frequently postponed the composition’s completion. The work, which was left two-thirds ready, and includes his own arrangements, will be performed by vocalists Maria Farandouri and Doros Demosthenous. The composer’s «Magnus Eroticus,» also included in the upcoming performance, will be rendered by Elli Paspala and Manolis Lidakis. In the meantime, interesting new items have been added to the composer’s official website www.manoshadjidakis.gr, a popular portal. Song lyrics, in Greek and English, and photos have been added. A forum for dialogue will soon be installed.