Thursday, 30 October 2008

Theodorakis, Elytis, Venetsanou



This is Nina Venetsanou singing Marina, music by Theodorakis, from the poem by Odysseas Eltytis.

Marina
Give me mint and basil
verbena too to smell
For with these I would kiss you
what first would I recall

The fountain with the doves
the sword Archangels keep
The orchard with the stars
and the well so deep

The nights I took you out
to the sky’s other vista
And as you’d rise I’d see you
like the Dawn-Star’s sister

Marina my green star
Marina Dawn-Star’s shine
Marina my wild dove
and lily of summertime.

11 comments:

Hermes said...

Elytis certainly had a wide range. He surprises me all the time. I prefer him to Seferis; although, Seferis was a genius. But Elytis was a gift to all of us.

john akritas said...

It's interesting: I think maybe Elytis is sometimes harder to get than Seferis, particularly for those of us over-exposed to the cold, harsh, realism-obsessed climate of Anglo-Saxon culture. Venetsanou is a wonderful performer. I saw her a few years back at the Herod Atticus singing Theodorakis' Ballad of Mauthausen – with Theodorakis conducting – and she was terrific. Venetsanou's a much better interpreter of Theodorakis than Farantouri, I believe.

Hermes said...

I have never been a great fan of Farantouri; although, I have never seen her perform live. Venetsanou is better.

Here is a dedication to Castoriadis aired in Greek TV earlier this year.

http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-5101934757729971152&hl=en

Hermes said...

On the same program just two days ago a discussion about Neohellenic identity with Ziakas and Yiannaras.

http://au.youtube.com/watch?v=Ubuw6DkfB0g

john akritas said...

Both videos are interesting, though the Castoriadis one gets a bit sidetracked by the priest gamely trying to prove that Castoriadis is compatible with Christian theology, when in fact Castoriadis is perfectly clear that nothing is more antithetical to the project of autonomy and democracy than theology and particularly the credos of the three Hebraic religions.

Yiannaras paints a very bleak picture of Greece which, unfortunately, is entirely recognisable. His point about education – or agoge – being a preparation for citizenship is particularly worth making given the state of Greek education and the role it assigns youth as some sort of vanguard of social change.

What I would like to ask Yiannaras, however, is this: at the beginning of the discussion he suggests that the decline of Greek society begins in 1974 and the system created in the aftermath of the junta, but at the end he argues that Hellenism's decline should in fact be attributed to the establishment of the Greek state in 1832 and that since 1832 Hellenism has not produced any original culture and just 'imitates' other cultures. Well, which is it: 1974 or 1832? It seems to me too harsh to say that after 1832 nothing original is created. Indeed, if we look at the period between 1922 and 1967, this is a significant age in Greek culture, full of extraordinary Greek poets, musicians, thinkers and so on. I say 1967, not 1974 because I reckon it was the junta that brought this period to an end and it was their rule that created the conditions which allowed communism, anarchism and nihilism to gain such a strong foothold in Greek society after 1974 and perversely shape the Greek political landscape.

john akritas said...

Actually, thinking about it a little more, perhaps the 'significant age' I refer to isn't between 1922 and 1967, but starts earlier, after the defeat of 1896.

Hermes said...

Although Yiannaras has some insights he is coming from a staunchly Orthodox vantage point e.g. saying that Xenakis is purely a product of Western culture. Are we disallowed from following the teachings of Pythagoras; particularly his number theories, without the Christian acculteration? That said Yiannaras says some striking things about youth and citizenship which I believe are excellent.

Regarding creativity, I agree with you. But I would say from about 1815 to 1980 there was incredible and original creativity produced by Hellenism. Since about 1980, when television, travel, capital, labour movement came to the fore, it has been a very steep downhill slide.

Hermes said...

By the way I just noticed my banning from MGO. Is that Simon Baddeley English? I thought he was an Amerikaniki. Oh well, I suppose the truth made Stavros uncomfortable.

john akritas said...

Of course, 1815 – how could I forget all the culture emerging from the Ionian islands in this period!!!

Yes, it appears you have been deemed a bad influence and ostracised.

john akritas said...

Although, the Ionian islands weren't incorporated into Greece until 1864; so, technically speaking, Yiannaras would be right to regard the culture that developed there as independent of the modern Greek state.

Hermes said...

Yes, but Heptanesian culture was not independent of Hellenism. Yiannaras has a problem with many modern Greek art because he believes that is has taken on too much Western cultural influence. He is strangely quiet about Eastern influence. In some cases he is correct; however, he conveniently forgets that his beloved Orthodoxy is not just a product of Greek culture, it too took on religious, ritualistic and artistic ideas from elsewhere which were not even close to the prevailing Greek culture of the time. For example, the high level of abstraction in Greek Byzantine occured over many centuries as Greek art came into contact with Egyptian, Syrian and Persian artistic forms. Therefore, if Seferis decides to use some poetic forms of TS Eliot, along with traditional Greek forms, is it such a bad thing?