Sumiglia

Savina Yannatou, Primavera en Salonico

Savina Yannatou made her ECM debut with the live album “Terra Nostra”. which alerted the world’s press to the work of this exceptional Greek singer and her maverick band of free-thinking musicians, Primavera en Salonico. They play the traditional musics of the world in a spirited and liberated manner, and with a wide perspective that is far from “traditional”.

Now “Sumiglia”, Yannatou’s first ECM studio album and her first creative collaboration with producer Manfred Eicher, takes the music to another level. Pooling songs from Greece, Corsica, Italy, Sicily, Galicia, Palestine, Albania, Bulgaria, Armenia, Moldavia and the Ukraine, “Sumiglia” both celebrates the differences between the traditions and the common ground they share.

Featured Artists Recorded

May 2004, Rainbow Studio, Oslo

Original Release Date

07.03.2005

  • 1Evga mana mou [Greece]
    (Traditional)
    03:54
  • 2Muineira [Spain]
    (Traditional)
    04:18
  • 3Yanno Yannovitse [Greece]
    (Traditional)
    04:45
  • 4Porondos viz partjan [Moldavia]
    (Traditional)
    04:09
  • 5Sedi Yanna [Bulgaria]
    (Traditional)
    02:30
  • 6Orrio tto fengo [Italy]
    (Salvatore Cotardo)
    04:29
  • 7Ta chervona ta kalinonka [Ukraine]
    (Traditional)
    02:54
  • 8Terra ca nun senti [Sicily]
    (Alberto Piazza)
    03:34
  • 9Sumiglia [Corsica]
    (Franceschini Acquaviva, Jean Claude Maurice Acquaviva)
    03:48
  • 10Sta kala lu serenu [Italy]
    (Traditional)
    02:42
  • 11Ganchum em yar ari [Armenia]
    (Traditional)
    03:08
  • 12Tulbah [Palestine]
    (Traditional)
    03:13
  • 13Smarte moj [Albania]
    (Traditional)
    03:37
  • 14Ela ipne ke pare to [Greece]
    (Traditional)
    05:30
Le Monde de la musique, Choc du mois
 
Un registre étendu sans crispation, ni démonstration, une perfection du timbre qui n’exclut ni la décontraction, ni une relative liberté timbrale. La voix répond ainsi sans hiatus aux exigences du chant classique ou du chant populaire, de la candeur des ballades aux narquoiseries libertines du cabaret en passant par l’ivresse de la danse. … Ses choix esthétiques sont incontestablement marqués par les mélismes de l’Orient, mais aussi par la liberté de pensée acquise par le chant contemporain depuis Berio et Cathy Berberian, et de façon plus permanente par la prise d’initiative du jazz. Une compétence qu’elle partage avec ses musiciens. … La production de Manfred Eicher répond très pertinemment aux besoins de ce folklore intérieur pour s’épanouir.
Franck Bergerot, Le Monde de la Musique
 
Sumiglia both celebrates the differences between the traditions and the common ground they share. The musicians reveal a deep feeling for the melodies they explore, treat them with great respect, and when the music seems to demand it, follow their implications until increasingly free improvisation becomes an inevitability.
Global Rhythm
 
Dark-toned but ambrosial, highly disciplined yet seemingly bursting with a soul of pure flame, the rather staggering Athens-born singer Savina Yannatou is a virtuosic chameleon adept at an extensive range of vocal traditions (and languages) from the Mediterranean region – not just interpreting but leaping off from these old folk musics with a daring, exploratory technique and far-flung tonal scope that allows her to stamp it all with a brash intelligence and some might say punky attitude. There’s not a thing dried-up or academic about her new takes on ancient songs… Yannatou really lets the blood out of these songs, brazenly improvising on them, as if called by some inner primal force, kneeding and kneedling them, caressing them, smearing their borders and launching out something entirely new in the process.
John Payne, L.A. Weekly
 
All participants contribute to a beautifully textured sound which fully explores the scope and dynamics of the all-acoustic line-up. … They’ve dug deep for interesting repertoire which points up the connections between traditions, with all lyrics translated into English in the booklet.
Ian Anderson, Froots
 
Yannatou’s choice of material takes in the whole of the Mediterranean from Spain to Albania and Yannatou delivers the emotion in each song as if it were her own. Her musicians swing like a jazz group, dance like a folk ensemble and have the soul of a blues band and this is a lovely record.
Duncan Heining, Jazzwise
 
In Sumiglia, Yannatou and her band manage to bring forth the songs’ common musical ancestry, while testing the limits of their own vocal and instrumental range. Yannatou has an angelic voice, which she applies with equal resonance to both her trademark acrobatic vocals and to the songs simplest phrasings. The instruments on this CD range from the traditional guitar and modern bass to the qanun and nay (the Arab harp and six-hole wind instrument, respectively). …
The CD includes a booklet with song translations and is a great collection of songs, performed by a great ensemble, which would make an ideal background to a roadtrip through Mediterranean landscapes.
Zoe Tsine, The National Herald
 
Yannatou is emerging as one of the most inventive interpreters of traditional music from around the world. While most of her musical contemporaries in Greece and the Mediterranean have gone “Eurovision” (something of an “American Idol” equivalent), Yannatou has continued to make music her way, blending global folk history and jazz-like modern improvisation. … In Sumiglia, Yannatou uses her now-signature range as theatre. She sounds richly feminine in bittersweet waves in an Armenian love ballad, almost masculine in the heaviness of the Corsican title track. She sighs and scats like Kate Bush in an interpretation of a Greek lullaby, sounding like a New Age fairy in a child’s wildest dreams.
Joanna Kakissis, Star Ledger
 
Die Sängerin, zwischen Renaissance-Madrigalen und freier Improvisation zeitgenössischen Avantgarde-Tönens auf fast allen musikalischen Feldern der Welt zu Hause, verkörpert wie keine andere Musikerin die Klänge der Welt - aus der Perspektive Athens. ... Die Lieder stammen ursprünglich aus Griechenland und Albanien, aus Spanien und Palästina, aus Bulgarien, Armenien, Moldawien und aus der Ukraine, von den Inseln Korsika und Sizilien. Ihr gemeinsames Fundament ist das wie für den Augenblick improvisiert wirkende Musizieren mit Akkordeon, Gitarre und Laute, Flöte, Kontrabass und einer Vielzahl von Perkussionsinstrumenten. Darüber erhebt sich die Stimme der Sängerin, die Geschichten aus dem Leben erzählt. Von glücklichen und unglücklichen Lieben, der Klage eines einsamen Waisenmädchens, von der Kampfesmüdigkeit des erschöpften Kriegers, der jauchzenden Ausgelassenheit einer Braut vor der Hochzeit. Es ist Savina Yannatous Stimme, die diesen Alltagsgeschichten Gesichter und Körper gibt, sie wirklich werden lässt auf der Bühne der Welt.
Andreas Obst, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung
 
Welche Souveränität, welchen Mut und welches Bekenntnis zur Verletzbarkeit durch die rückhaltlose Eröffnung eines eigenen Standpunkts schenkt diese wunderbare Sängerin ihrem Publikum. Gemeinsam mit der herausragend gut besetzten Formation Primavera en Salonico um den Multiinstrumentalisten Kostas Vomvolos setzt die Yannatou auf Sumiglia einer auf den ersten Blick sehr heterogenen Region ein überraschend geschlossenes musikalisches Denkmal: dem Mittelmeerraum und Osteuropa. Sie verfügt über ein großartiges Gespür für Identitäten, deren Kerne sie behutsam herauslöst und sich begegnen lässt. Das Ergebnis ist in höchstem Maße inspirierend. ... Savina Yannatou ist eine jener Künstlerinnen, von denen jeder ... eine Aufnahme im Regal stehen haben sollte – mindestens.
Volker Doberstein, Jazzpodium
 
Was die griechische Sängerin Savina Yannatou zusammen mit dem Ensemble Primavera en Salonico da macht, dürfte einmalig auf der Welt sein. Sumiglia versammelt vierzehn Songs aus dem Mittelmeer- und dem osteuropäischen Raum, von Spanien bis zur Ukraine, von Armenien bis Italien. Diese werden jedoch nicht einfach gespielt, sondern förmlich verdaut – eingesponnen in ein fragiles Gespinst. .... Immer wenn sich Raum bietet, ergreift das Sextett die Möglichkeit und verwandelt diese traditionellen Songs in etwas Neues. Das geschieht immer mit Einfühlungsvermögen und Respekt; und die unglaublich wandelbare Stimme von Savina Yannatou ist schlicht und einfach sensationell.
Rolf Thomas, Jazzthetik
 
Eine wahre Kosmopolitin innerhalb des griechischen Liedes ist Savina Yannatou. Zu ihren bekanntesten Werken zählen ihre Interpretationen jüdisch-sephardischer Lieder. Auf Sumiglia singt sie mit ihrer klaren, hellen Stimme Lieder aus dem gesamten zirkummediterranen Raum: Spanien, Italien, Korsika, Palästina, Griechenland, Albanien, Bulgarien, aber auch Moldawien, Ukraine und Armenien. ... Dezent instrumentiert und sehr atmosphärisch.
Concerto
 
Die griechische Sängerin zeigt einmal mehr, dass sie längst einen Platz in der ersten Liga der Weltmusik verdient hat. Mit grandioser Begleitung führt sie musikalische Ingredienzien aus Okzident und Orient zusammen.
Nick Joyce, Radiomagazin/Schweiz
 
 
 

   Savina Yannatou made her ECM debut with the live album “Terra Nostra”. Released early in 2003, it alerted the world’s press to the work of this exceptional Greek singer and her maverick band of free-thinking musicians, Primavera en Salonico. They play the traditional musics of the world in a spirited and liberated manner, and with a wide perspective that is far from “traditional”.

Now “Sumiglia”, Yannatou’s first ECM studio album and her first creative collaboration with producer Manfred Eicher, takes the music to another level. Pooling songs from Greece, Corsica, Italy, Sicily, Galicia, Palestine, Albania, Bulgaria, Armenia, Moldavia and the Ukraine, “Sumiglia” both celebrates the differences between the traditions and the common ground they share. The musicians reveal a deep feeling for the melodies they explore, treat them with great respect, and when the music seems to demand it, follow their implications until increasingly free improvisation becomes an inevitability.

“Sumiglia” is also a vocal, and linguistic, tour-de-force. Savina, possessed of a voice that always seems a naturally expressive instrument, nevertheless has the ability to move in and out of roles and characters (and dialects and idioms) with an actress’s or opera singer’s facility: she becomes the protagonists of her songs – the orphaned child of “Porondos viz partjan”, the suffering lover of “Sta kala lu serenu”, the war-weary narrator of “Terra can nun senti”, the Greek bride of “Evga mana mou”… “Yannatou is a chameleon,” marvelled writer John Slavin in Australian magazine, The Age, “playful, sexy and richly endowed with musical intelligence. An astonishing artist.”

Drawing on the open-ended arrangements of Kostas Vomvolos, the band is able to match Yannatou’s mercurial changes of mood. “Sumiglia” also gives the fullest account yet of the group’s instrumental range.

As one Greek critic wrote, “Savina Yannatou and the musicians of Primavera en Salonico are rope-dancers on the chord which connects the modal music of the East with the equivalent music of Western Europe, music of the Middle Ages and the popular polyphonies of the Mediterranean. Beginning from the melismatic riches of the Eastern Maqam and its charmingly irregular rhythms they explore the territory of collective free improvisation, meeting there modern jazz.” In fact, several of the players have backgrounds in jazz.

Savina Yannatou was born in Athens where she studied at the National Conservatory and Spiros Sakkas’s Workshop of Vocal Art in Athens. On a scholarship from the Mousigetis Foundation, she attended England’s Guildhall School of Music and Drama.
An early collaboration with composer Manos Hadjidakis led to further adventures with modern music; she also has experience of baroque and renaissance performance styles. In the early 1990s she began experimenting with free improvisation, eventually forming a cooperative trio with German bassist Peter Kowald and Greek clarinettist/saxophonist Floros Floridis. Since 1993 Yannatou has performed with Primavera en Salonico, the collective of Thessaloniki-based musicians originally assembled for a project that collected Sephardic folk songs. A number of recordings for Lyra (a label that is also ECM’s Greek distributor) followed. Savina Yannatou has also composed music for theatre, video art and dance, and has contributed to more than 20 albums released in her homeland since 1979.

Between them the members of Primavera en Salonico have enormous musical experience, in genres from traditional music to modern composition via jazz and improvisation. Violinist Kyriakos Gouventas, for instance, has played with many of the great folk singers of Greece and is a member of Thessaloniki’s Ensemble of Traditional Music. His musicianship is in great demand all over Greece and he plays with all the leading Greek singers at countless occasions. Oud man Yannis Alexandris is highly respected as both an instrumentalist and a builder of traditional instruments, including bouzoukis, baglamas, lutes, tambouras etc. Bassist Michaelis Siganidis has been active in the Greek jazz/improvised scene, working with Sakis Papadimitriou and others; he also has a reputation as a poet and songwriter. Ney player Haris Lambrakis, at 28 the band’s youngest member, plays with both traditional and contemporary ensembles. Percussionist Kostas Theodorou is a multi-instrumentalist who began his career as a bassist. He has worked with Bulgarian kaval player Theodossij Spassov, combines Greek rhythms with those of the neighbouring lands, and describes himself as an “avant-garde folk musician.”

Marshalling all these talents is Primavera’s musical director, Kostos Vomvolos. Vomvolos is well-known in Greece as a writer of theatre music and is also an arresting instrumentalist, on both the accordion and the qanun (or psaltery) which he plays in inventive, idiosyncratic manner.