Orchestra of Colours
Composer Portrait: Giorgos Koumendakis
2012, March 11
This is the Athens premiere of the third installment in the Isokratima cycle, Isokratima enos paidiou [The Pedal Tone for a Child], an orchestral work originally commissioned by the Thessaloniki Megaron.
The cycle explores the isokratima, a Byzantine musical term for a musical accompaniment consisting of a single sustained note or drone: the ison. The founding note of every harmony, the ison seems to stretch out towards infinity, providing a firm base on which Man can construct his spiritual being.
Amor Fati, an orchestral work commissioned by the Thessaloniki State Symphony Orchestra to mark the fiftieth anniversary of the death of Nikos Kazantzakis, is based on Cretan kondylies.
In Religion and Psychiatry, Irvin Yalom writes that: “People who feel that they have lived a full, rich life, that they have lived up to their potential and been all they could be, panic less in the face of death. [...] I really like the phrase in Report to Greco: ‘Leave nothing for Charon but a few bones’. That’s a fine principle by which to live our lives”. In response to this passage, Giorgos Koumendakis notes: “Irvin Yalom’s thoughts provided the inspiration for Amor Fati [Love of fate], an optimistic work and perhaps the first in my oeuvre which manifests a zest for life. I tried to take a fresh, contemporary look at Nikos Kazantzakis’ work while steering clear of the folklorish approaches that have so often misrepresented the philosophical content of his work and constricted its ideological scope.”
Luciano Berio’s Folk Songs are among the great Italian composer’s best-loved works. The pieces approach folk music from Italy and elsewhere in an analytical, virtuosic but always readily comprehensible way.
Verklärte Nacht [Transfigured Night] is perhaps the most important early work by the great Austrian composer, Arnold Schoenberg. A programmatic work based on a poem of the same name by Richard Dehmel, its five movements are written in an extreme late Romantic idiom which stretches the tonal system to its very limits.