Back home for live album
One of the country’s more traveled artists in recent times, the gifted vocalist Savina Yiannatou, whose growing career demands have led to a greater number of concert performances in foreign lands, is currently stationed here in Athens for a series of shows that are being recorded for a forthcoming live album. Yiannatou has already performed six of nine scheduled shows at the Sfendona Club, with three more to come this Friday, Saturday and Sunday. The concerts, each just short of three hours long, include much of the material that began opening the World Music circuit’s doors to Yiannatou late last decade – songs from three albums, Spring in Salonica, Virgin Maries of the World, and Songs of the Mediterranean, all released over the past seven years and including Primavera en Salonico, the singer’s regular backing band – as well as the vocalist’s reinterpretations of older work by the late composer Manos Hadjidakis. Besides the customary accompaniment by Primavera en Salonico, an accomplished six-member ensemble, Yiannatou is also being backed by a fine piano-violin-cello trio for the Hadjidakis segment of the current shows. Lamia Bedioui, an Athens-based Tunisian singer, also joins Yiannatou for duets of several Arabic songs. In their entirety, the concerts showcase prime samples of Yiannatou’s course as a recording artist over the past two decades, beginning with her reinterpretations of Hadjidakis as part of a collaboration with fringe artist Lena Platonos in the early 1980s, to her more recent ethnic outings with Primavera en Salonico. Interestingly, her seasoned partnership with Primavera en Salonico, now approaching a decade, is beginning to bear fruit on stage. No longer content to offer faithful renditions of traditional songs, mostly from the Mediterranean basin, Yiannatou and her band have built enough confidence to stretch the material beyond its usual confines to wayward grounds with plenty of scope for improvisation.