Trojan Women - Music for the Stageplay by Euripides

Eleni Karaindrou

After highly-successful albums based upon her music for the cinema ­ “Music for Films”, “The Suspended Step of the Stork”, “Ulysses’ Gaze”, “Eternity and a Day” ­ Greek composer Eleni Karaindrou presents work written for the theatre, for a new staging of “Trojan Women”. The large concerns of Euripides’ tragedy have encouraged Karaindrou to employ a broader musical canvas: resources here include a choir, directed by Antonis Kontogeorgiou, and a wide array of folk instruments, to build mythic soundscapes of powerful motional resonance.
    ”Trojan Women”, directed by Antonis Antypas and with music by Eleni Karaindrou, was premiered at the Ancient Theatre of Epidaurus on August 31 and September 1, 2001, where fifteen thousand people cheered the performances. The project was then taken on the road in and around Greece, with fifteen further performances, concluding with a presentation in Cyprus. Both press and public reactions were extremely positive. Amongst the Greek daily newspapers Kathimireni hailed the music as “an artistic and spiritual asset”, while Apogevmatini observed that “the spectators were enchanted by Eleni Karaindrou’s magnificent music. A very important work.”

Featured Artists Recorded

July 2001, Studio Polysound, Athens

Original Release Date

2002-03-18

  • 1Voices
    (Eleni Karaindrou)
    02:08
  • 2Lament I
    (Eleni Karaindrou)
    01:17
  • 3Desolate Land I
    (Eleni Karaindrou)
    01:05
  • 4Lament II
    (Eleni Karaindrou)
    01:05
  • 5Hecuba's Lament
    (Eleni Karaindrou)
    01:23
  • 6Parodos (The Land I Call Home)
    (K. X. Myris, Eleni Karaindrou)
    02:18
  • 7Parodos (Home Of My Forefathers)
    (K. X. Myris, Eleni Karaindrou)
    01:50
  • 8Parodos (I Wish I'm Given There)
    (K. X. Myris, Eleni Karaindrou)
    01:35
  • 9Cassandra's Theme
    (Eleni Karaindrou)
    02:02
  • 10Cassandra's Trance
    (Eleni Karaindrou)
    02:52
  • 11First Stasimon (An Ode Of Tears)
    (K. X. Myris, Eleni Karaindrou)
    04:03
  • 12First Stasimosn (For The Phrygian Land A Vast Mourning)
    (K. X. Myris, Eleni Karaindrou)
    02:00
  • 13Andromache's Theme
    (Eleni Karaindrou)
    01:07
  • 14Andromache's Lament
    (Eleni Karaindrou)
    01:06
  • 15Terra Deserta
    (Eleni Karaindrou)
    02:16
  • 16Astyanax' Theme
    (Eleni Karaindrou)
    00:59
  • 17Hecuba's Theme I
    (Eleni Karaindrou)
    00:42
  • 18Hecuba's Theme II
    (Eleni Karaindrou)
    00:38
  • 19Second Stasimon (Telamon, You Came To Conquer Our Town)
    (K. X. Myris, Eleni Karaindrou)
    01:51
  • 20Second Stasimon (The City That Gave Birth To You Was Consumed By Fire)
    (K. X. Myris, Eleni Karaindrou)
    01:17
  • 21An Ode Of Tears
    (Eleni Karaindrou)
    00:59
  • 22Desolate Land II
    (Eleni Karaindrou)
    01:07
  • 23Lament III
    (Eleni Karaindrou)
    00:42
  • 24Third Stasimon (In Vain The Sacrifices)
    (K. X. Myris, Eleni Karaindrou)
    02:03
  • 25Third Stasimon (My Beloved, Your Soul Is Wandering)
    (K. X. Myris, Eleni Karaindrou)
    03:09
  • 26Hecuba's Theme
    (Eleni Karaindrou)
    01:18
  • 27Lament For Astyanax (Oh Bitter Lament, My Bitter Boy)
    (K. X. Myris, Eleni Karaindrou)
    01:52
  • 28Exodos
    (Eleni Karaindrou)
    02:25
  • 29Exodos (Accursed Town)
    (K. X. Myris, Eleni Karaindrou)
    01:02
  • 30Astyanax' Memory
    (Eleni Karaindrou)
    01:01
To listen only a few times to Trojan Women may not be enough to reveal all its depth and width, yet you will realise immediately that you are in front of one of the most important recording events of the year, even though we are still at the beginning of it. What Karaindrou ventured to do here was very attractive from the start, albeit undoubtedly difficult, perhaps even quite risky from the creative point of view. In other words, she had to use her very rich education from classical music only as a base, retaining the manner of organising and constructing the composing resources she commands, but introducing different types of development and expression, from the orchestration point of view and more.If you exclude the harp, there are no more string or other symphony orchestra instruments, as was usual in her previous works. Instead, there are exclusively traditional instruments, which, however - and here is where her composing and orchestrating genius lies - she uses in a way that is everything but...traditional! Here, Karaindrou makes music which is unadorned, inner, lyrical, sotto voce dignified, monumental but not "monument-like". She lets herself be carried to the heart of sound and doesn't allow it to possess her with its power. She only keeps its essential elements and drops all unnecessary ones. She "plays" with the silences (there are moments close to minimalism, if only in feeling) continuously maintaining an underlying sense of intensity. She compassionately leans over the tragic poetry and listens to the pain it contains, allowing it to emerge through the decent, noble sorrow her notes engender in us. Small musical phrases, like fragments of a distinct sound poetry, bittersweet "unknown words" of a strange "dialect" which springs from the heart and addresses the open spirit of those who possess such a thing, in order to accept and comprehend it...It is a work beyond the accepted (or not) title of "post-modern", classical in essence and beyond time in values while being totally modern at the same time, music which leaves you with the sensation of a distant and somehow forsaken, yet vaguely familiar, feeling.
S. Mantzanas, AVGI (Greece)
 
Karaindrou, better known for her film scores, uses a chamber group of instruments indigenous to Greece and the Mediterranean (lyra, kanonaki, suling, santouri) for her beautiful live score to K.H. Myris's modern Greek translation of "Trojan Women"... Using the mythological fall of Troy as his analogy, Euripides's anti-war tragedy about the captured women of Phrygia who teach their Greek conquerors moral values, was written in 415 BC following the violent fall of Melos to the Athenians. The hypnotic sounds, which emerge from the delicately arranged instruments together with the chorus are unique and deeply meditative in their mystical resonance.
Tarik O'Regan, The Observer
 
Wieder diese grandiose, hoch emotionale Musik, diesmal geschrieben für Chor, Sopran und traditionelle Folklore-Instrumente. Eine sinnliche Offenbarung zur klassischen Antikriegstragödie. Heimatverlust, Ruinen - die Männer getötet, die Kinder in die Sklaverei entführt, die Frauen als Beute der neuen Herrscher. Dazu ein weiteres Mal eine Musik, die eine Ahnung davon vermittelt, dass die wahre Bedeutung hinter den Worten beginnt.
Ulrich Steinmetzger, Mitteldeutsche Zeitung
 
An exquisite musical fresco in black and white. This is how we can characterise and describe Eleni Karaindrou's musical work, which has emerged out of Antonis Antypas' theatrical interpretation of Euripides' "Trojan Women". The play was presented in Epidaurus in 2001 and is still intensely moving both for Easterners and Westerners. In the production the music accompanies and assists the drama as a faithful friend and companion. Now, in the recorded version, it is the drama which assists and serves the music as a faithful friend-companion. The thirty brief musical moments from the performance which form the discographic unit, thirty vibrations of sound and rhythm, umbued with the scent of genuineness, transform the grandeur of the drama in an awesome way, resurrecting memory and igniting imagination. A timeless anti-war cry, an incessant lament: this is what Euripides' tragedy is.
George B. Monemvasitis, Echo & Artis
 
Earthy and tragic, at times melancholy and nostalgic, Eleni Karaindrou's music springs by itself from within. It knows well that a compositon next to Euripides' play is not a simple case of creating an atmosphere. The tragic action doesn't need a simple musical accompaniment, it doesn't need explaining, it doesn't need an extra carrier, there is nothing it lacks and nothing is superfluous in it. Anything added would be exaggeration. Her sounds carry the same message as the poet. Gifted with modesty and devoted to serving music, she creates masterpieces in "sotto voce". ... A precious acquisition to our cultural inheritance.
Liana Maladrenioti, diphono
 
Au premier abord, la simplicité de la musique d'Eleni Karaindrou pourra surprendre; la sensualité mélodique, parfois mièvre dans certaines pièces pour orchestre à cordes, est compensée ici par l'utilisation d'instruments traditionnels, aux sonorités à la fois tendres et mystérieuses. Les choeurs, chantés par les acteurs de la pièce d'Euripide (pour laquelle cette musique a été écrite) ponctuent l'action avec une austérité statique assez fascinante, installant un climat enveloppant, comme une berceuse élégiaque, une procession sans but. Simple et touchant: profondément humain.
Bertrand Dermoncourt, Classica
 
 
After highly-successful and critically-acclaimed albums based upon her music for the cinema - "Music for Films", "The Suspended Step of the Stork", "Ulysses' Gaze", "Eternity and a Day" - Greek composer Eleni Karaindrou here presents work written for the theatre, for a new staging, by Antonis Antypas, of Euripides' tragedy "Trojan Women". The Karaindrou/Antypas association is long-established. Since 1986, Eleni Karaindrou has contributed music to 20 of his stage productions for the Aplo Theatro.

"Trojan Women", directed by Antonis Antypas and with music by Eleni Karaindrou, was premiered at the Ancient Theatre of Epidaurus on August 31 and September 1, 2001, where fifteen thousand people cheered the performances. The project was then taken on the road in and around Greece, with fifteen further performances, concluding with a presentation in Cyprus. Both press and public reactions were extremely positive. Amongst the Greek daily newspapers Kathimireni hailed the music as "an artistic and spiritual asset", while Apogevmatini observed that "the spectators were enchanted by Eleni Karaindrou's magnificent music. A very important work."

***

Euripides' tragedy "Trojan Women" - first performed in 415 B.C. - was written as a warning of the catastrophic absurdity of war. It counts as one of the first and most vehement "anti-war, anti-God" literary protests of antiquity. One year before Euripides presented his "Trojan Women" to the Greeks, the Athenians had attacked the island of Melos, which maintained a neutral position in relation to Sparta, and conquered it with unprecedented brutality - burning, looting, killing, raping. Surviving women and children were sold into slavery.

Euripides projected his pacifist objection to this bloodlust by using the mythology around the destruction of Troy, with which the Athenians were familiar, with direct references to the destruction of Melos, which they had just experienced. The playwright wanted to warn his countrymen of the folly and consequences of such far-flung aggression. In this the work proved prophetic. The Athenians suffered humiliating defeat in their Sicilian campaign and ultimately lost the war with Sparta.

In her liner notes for the present CD, Eleni Karaindrou talks about a breakthrough encounter with "Trojan Women", when Antypas first provided her with fresh insights into a work she had often seen. "There is something beyond research and analysis, beyond the accumulation of knowledge and information, something beyond the understanding of a poetic text. And this element cannot be explained, it can only be illuminated."

"Trojan Women", with its themes of genocide, exile, and injustices suffered by women it is a work that remains agonisingly contemporary. Reviews of Antypas' production emphasized this point. "Painting with current day speech and evocative manner the horror of war and its terrible outcome, you felt you were experiencing the contemporary destruction in Bosnia-Herzogovina and Kosovo ...When the performance finished in the marble theatre of Epidaurus more than 7,000 spectators rose and for six minutes clapped loud and long. At last we were able to watch a persuasive performance of Euripides' tragedy ... A poet was to us reborn." (Giorgos Savvidis writing in Greek newspaper Apogevmatini.)

The large concerns of "Trojan Women" have encouraged Karaindrou to employ a broader musical canvas: resources here include a choir, directed by Antonis Kontogeorgiou, and a wide array of folk instruments, to build mythic soundscapes of powerful emotional resonance:

Antypas' version of "Trojan Women" is based upon the modern Greek poetic adaptation of K.X. Myris. Familiar with Euripides' ancient Greek original, Karaindrou found that the sound and the tone of the demotic version spurred the composing process. "The instruments appeared by themselves, they sprang out of the need of the subconscious, charging with their presence the pain of human adventure in this particular land, the land I call home. Constantinople lyra, kanonaki, ney, santouri, outi, laouto, harp, daires, daouli, sounds which come from the depth of time. Sounds which caress the shores of Asia Minor, travel to the Black Sea, nest in the domes of Constantinople and bind with the wail of Smyrna burning. Sounds recognisable not only in Greece but also in the Balkans and in all the countries wetted by the Mediterranean ... "

In the winter of 2001, ECM producer Manfred Eicher edited, sequenced, mixed and reworked Karaindrou's musical material for album release, a task he has previously undertaken also with Eleni's music for the films of Theo Angelopoulos. In the words of the composer, Eicher separated the music "from the shell of the theatrical performance, to breathe autonomy into it, and to recompose it with magical touches into an integral musical work."