Cilia Petridou: Visions of the Greek Soul

review cilia petridou x1 cong

This double CD of vocal music has an other-worldly feel, the second half of the programme being more traditional in sound. Aside from some piano, it’s all vocals (mainly soprano, plus tenor and bass).

It’s a double album, in two parts: the first half is 15 songs inspired by the Muses and looking at our connection with the natural world in several ways. The whole is entitled The Anyte Collection, from the Greek poet Anyte of Tegea, with settings of poems by Dimitris Libertis, Emily Dickinson, Kostis Palamas, Alexander Pallis (who translated the New Testament into Modern Greek and caused riots in Athens in 1901 in which eight people died) and Nikos Kambas.

The second half is Byzantine Doxology for small choir a capella. Composed in 1988, it is based on a Greek Orthodox idea of “Books shall be opened”, records of a person’s life that are opened only at the day of judgment, to the sound of wailing for the sinful.

Clearly it must be a worry for good Greeks to fear that they’re inadvertently and unknowingly sinning, but will only find out when the sound of wailing greets the opening of their books. When it’s too late.

Talking of wailing, the first CD has some of the more challenging sections from the sopranos; odd moments can be a little striking / operatic, although as a whole it’s a calming atmospheric piece. It has a liturgical feel to it, although not as much as the overtly religious Byzantine Doxology, which combines a feel of the old (thanks to the male voices) and the more modern.

The sleeve notes are good, Petridou chatting about this woman she kept meeting and a Greek she met at a talk, how she’s inspired, and thanking her mum. An interesting collection for fans of the human voice.

This is out on Divine Art, DDA 21233.

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