“Intersection : 1955” puts in perspective works by two of the most important Greek composers working in the second half of the 20th century. In 1955, Mikis Theodorakis, as a student at the Paris Conservatory under Eugène Bigot and Olivier Messiaen, composed the music for the ballet “Erofili”, later renamed “Passacailles pour deux pianos”. Passacailles is perhaps the most atypical and enigmatic set of works written by Theodorakis, though it heralded his future development as a composer. The work is rich in contrasts and sonorities: from the sound painting of an archaic landscape of the beginning, to the evocation of a cathedral organ in the last number, the work foretells the future Theodorakis of the grand oratories, of the Axion Esti and Canto General. The two cycles of extreme beauty on the poems of Paul Eluard written in 1958 are particularly distinguished by their great economy of means in harmonic writing and their use of a kind of Byzantine ison.
The Six T. S. Eliot Songs by Jani Christou written in 1955, are the culmination of his period of acoustic compositions, long before he turned to the world of electroacoustic music or constructions which combined three artistic principles, music, dance and theatre, in the same work. Christou’s music perfectly reflects the atmosphere of Eliot’s poetry, and reveals the composer’s immense talent, as well as his ability to move audiences and interpreters alike. The utilisation of the voice is very different from one melody to another, though the technical means employed are relatively similar. It offers the composer scope for exploration with regards to expression, musical discourse, the transformation of acoustical energies into music, the notion of praxis and dramatical action.
The featured song cycles are performed by the distinguished mezzo-soprano Angelica Cathariou whose recordings of vocal works by Nikos Skalkottas, Iannis Xenakis and Manuel de Falla have received international critical acclaim.
Pianists Nikolaos Samaltanos and Christophe Sirodeau, following internationally recognised recordings on music of Nikos Skalkottas, Samuil Feinberg and Viktor Ullmann among many others, complete this album with the Prélude and Fugue by Jani Christou. This early work was composed in 1944 in Egypt, at a time when Christou was studying piano with the famous Austro-Greek pianist Gina Bachauer, long before his studies of philosophy at Cambridge and music with Vito Frazzi, and Hans F. Redlich. Neo classical in character, the Prelude, with its repetitive motives, seems to foreshadow minimalist music, while the Fugue is tonal, with the harmonies becoming increasingly dissonant, returning to a tonal coda before finally reaching a radiant apotheosis in D major.
Nikolaos Samaltanos was born in Athens and studied the piano under Ivi Deligianni, Aliki Vatikioti, Evgeni Malinin and György Sebök. His name is associated with the presentation of the music of Nikos Skalkottas in concert; his recordings on BIS include critically acclaimed accounts Skalkottas’s solo piano works and a disc of Skalkottas songs that won the Gerald Moore Prize of the Académie Française du Disque Lyrique.
Athens-born mezzo soprano Angelica Cathariou received her piano soloist diploma and singing diploma with Honours, awarded unanimously, from the Athenaeum-Maria Callas Conservatory. With a scholarship from the Onassis Foundation she pursued further studies in Italy, under the guidance of Arrigo Pola and Renata Scotto, and in the United Kingdom.
She sings a wide range of operatic and symphonic repertoire and has appeared at prestigious venues around the world with many world class orchestras and conductors. She also performs extensively in numerous concerts of contemporary music. Her recordings include the world premiere of N. Skalkottas’s 16 melodies (BIS), De Falla’s El Amor Brujo (Naïve), Schubert’s Messe Es-Dur, works by M. Adamis (Naxos) and Clotilde Rosa as well as the music of Alexandre Desplat for the film 11’09″01 New York September 11.
Christophe Sirodeau (born 1970 in Paris) is a French pianist and composer. As a pianist, he studied with at the Tchaikovsky Moscow Conservatory. Since making his performing debut in 1982, he has performed a broad variety of repertoire in concert, recordings and broadcasts, specialising somewhat in the presentation of rarely heard music (Ullmann, Feinberg, Skalkottas, Kapralova for example). In the 1990s he undertook significant scholarly and performing work concerning Samuil Feinberg which resulted in the composer’s 1st Piano Concerto and a number of unpublished songs and piano works coming to light and receiving their first performances and recordings since the 1930s, and in some cases, their world premieres.