“There are encounters which in the end are proved to be turning points. There are moments when you hear a piece of music, have a chance conversation with someone or read a text and you get the unexpected feeling of communication at a deeper level, of a common language.
In Eleni Karaindrou, I found a musical language which seemed to come into being at the same time as the images in my films. Sounds that were mine before they were born. This is why the way we collaborate has, or at least I think it has, its special characteristics. It has been a long time since then, since our first meeting, our first work together, but time hasn’t tarnished anything. The aspirations, the intensity, the feeling of expectation are still the same. Every time there is the same critical encounter of music and images that seem to get born simultaneously.”
Theo Angelopoulos on Eleni Karaindrou, in “Horizons Touched” (Granta, 2007)
Greek director Theo Angelopoulos’s movie “Dust of Time” begins in 1953 with Stalin’s death and ends in 1989 with the fall of the Berlin Wall. In between, as so often in Angelopoulos’s films, are lives caught in the crossfire of history. The character A., a film director in his fifties, finds himself becoming a part of the film he is making, as he shapes his chronicle of the tumultuous life and love of his parents. As the tale unfolds, the action swings between Greece, Uzbekistan, Siberia, the US, Canada, Israel and Germany. Underpinning and uniting the plot: the music of Eleni Karaindrou.
Karaindrou, who has written music for Angelopoulos’s films for more than 25 years describes her first reading of the shooting script for “Dust of Time” as “a moving surprise”.
For the first time in an Angelopoulos film there is a scene with an orchestra, a conductor, a pianist and a composer: a rehearsal of the music score for the film-within-the-film of A. “The musical theme that I was supposed to write for this scene, an important reference to my collaboration with Theo Angelopoulos, in essence was meant to be one of the main themes of ‘Dust of Time’, where past and present intertwine.”
This became the “Dance Theme” heard in three versions on the present recording, one with the Hellenic Radio Television Symphony Orchestra and conductor Alexandros Myrat, the formation shown in the scene shot in the Athens Concert Hall. For all variations of the main themes, Karaindrou collaborated with members of the Camerata Friends of Music Orchestra.
The “Seeking” theme (also heard in symphonic and chamber versions) is described by its composer as “one that expresses the turbulent course of the characters through the specific historical period. In the film, themes dear to Theo Angelopoulos recur; exile, frontiers, separation.... To write the music I had to look for the film’s secret codes, I had to bring the essence of things to the surface and shed intense light on the sound colours underlining the timelessness of nostalgia.”
Music has always been an important presence in Angelopoulos’s films. In “Dust of Time” its role is central. The character Spyros, A’s father, is a pianist. “The piano, then, had to be present in my music,” Karaindrou says. “However the colour of the violin, of the cello and of the harp turned out to be dominant, not only because of their own distinctiveness but also because of the inner quality of three participating musicians who live in Greece but were born in Rumania and Albania. (Sergiu Nastasa, Renato Ripo, Maria Bildea). The flavour of their own musical tradition (tsiganiko) and of a very special inner feeling, marked by their having been uprooted from their countries, permeates their playing. I had the feeling that the accordion had to pervade certain special moments with its colour; and the oboe should add some emotional touches on the canvas of my music.”
Making music for cinema is one thing, the art of crafting albums from the material another. Around 100 minutes of music were recorded for the film, Karaindrou says, “but it took the ingenious, drastic intervention of Manfred Eicher’s dramaturgy to create a concentrated sound result of 45 minutes, with colours mixing into an invisible palette of delicate balances.”
After the massed instrumental forces of the live “Elegy of the Uprooting”, effectively an overview of Karaindrou’s music for film and theatre (issued on double CD in 2007, and on DVD in 2008), “Dust of Time” is an album quieter, more reflective charms.
The “Dust of Time”CD is released to coincide with the Berlin Film Festival (February 5-15), where Angelopoulos’s film is being shown.
Eleni Karaindrou was born in the Greek mountain village of Teichio. She studied piano and musical theory at the Athens Hellenic Conservatory, history and archaeology at the University of Athens, and ethnomusicology and orchestration at the Sorbonne and the Schola Cantorum in Paris.
Since 1975 she has composed music for more than twenty feature films, and for more than 40 theatre plays and numerous television productions. Collaborating most often with Greek directors – above all Theo Angelopoulos, with whom she has had an ongoing creative association since 1983 – she has also worked with Harold Pinter, Chris Marker, Jules Dassin, Margarethe von Trotta and others.
Karaindrou has received numerous awards including the State Music Award (Greece) for her music for “Eternity and a Day”, the Dmitris Mitropoulos Award for her music for theatre (1994-96), and the Fellini Award from Europa Cinema, Italy. In 2002 she received the Golden Cross of the Order of Honor from the Greek president, for her life’s work. In 2004 she was nominated for the European Film Award for her music for “The Weeping Meadow”, which was also Oscar-nominated.
Eleni Karaindrou has been an ECM recording artist since 1991, working closely with producer Manfred Eicher in mixing, editing and adapting compositions originally written for stage and screen for album release. Her ECM recordings are “Music for Films”, “The Suspended Step of the Stork”, “Ulysses’ Gaze”, “Eternity and a Day”, “Trojan Women”, “The Weeping Meadow” and “Elegy of the Uprooting”.
CD booklet includes a brief liner note by Eleni Karaindrou, and colour stills from “Dust of Time”