Musical focus for Quarterly

The latest, 12th edition of the Hellenic Quarterly (Spring 2002; 7 euros) again focuses on one broad topic of contemporary cultural interest, supplemented by other sub-topics. It also maintains a quality gap between content and presentation: The numerous, often enlightening contributions are undercut by the dearth of cogent English to serve the audience clearly being pitched to. Greek music is the focus of the 17 short (3-4 pages) articles of the first section, aiming, as the brief editorial has it, to provide «a stimulus in discovering the unfailing Greek musical creation.» An opening essay by Theodoros Antoniou focuses on Greece as an East-West conduit combining old traditions with modern techniques. The predictable and often stimulating result is diverse, complex, and culturally significant, as subsequent pieces on ethnic music, jazz (one of the less expected but more interesting ones), rock (highlighting the pivotal role of the young Dionysis Savvopoulos) and distinguished Greek composers here and abroad all show. Opera, however, remains undervalued for historical and social reasons; «still virgin territory,» as Alexis Spanides puts it. The histories and relative merits of existing venues and ensembles (10 years of the Athens Concert Hall; the ERT orchestra) are also discussed, and the section ends with short essays by three major musical figures, Theodorakis, Elytis and Markopoulos. A separate section, «Memory Pages,» is devoted mainly to Melina Mercouri, an actress with quite a voice as well. Other sections somewhat unevenly balance out the contents. Some interesting, if heavy-going, pieces on constitutional and international law fill in the «Justice and Law» section, while «Culture» consists of a single piece. Finally, the «Books and Authors» section focuses on the poet Kiki Dimoula, with selections. Visual art of high standard graces these pages, as do brief poetic excerpts. These elements relieve the functional and at times convoluted text, much of it seemingly translated by non-English language speakers, whereby some fascinating material gets lost in the word shuffle. Editorial trade-offs are inevitable, and native-language editing has once again been bypassed, perhaps for sound budgetary reasons. Yet until that changes, copious bad English will keep slipping through. Directed by Jean-Francois Richet, starring Virginie Ledoyen, Yazid Ait, Mar Sodupe, Stomy Bugsy. The lives of four 20-year-olds living in a Parisian suburb are shaken following a small theft. (In French)

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