Klang | Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader


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The war years took such a toll on Greek art music that it's now very rare to hear any, other than drivel by Vangelis, Yanni, and Zamfir. That seems to be why the new-music ensemble Klang has chosen to assemble work by five significant Greek figures under the rubric "Deconstructing Agamemnon." Foremost among the five is Iannis Xenakis: though he is often grouped with important French postwar composers and was in fact born to Greek parents in Romania, Xenakis never lost his deep commitment to Hellenic culture, and he continues to be the best-known Greek exponent of the avant-garde. He was a nationalist activist just after the war, protesting British intervention during readjustment; decades after he settled in France in 1947 he continued to compose works based on ancient Greek themes, such as his large-scale trilogy based on Aeschylus' Oresteia. The guiding concept of "Deconstructing Agamemnon" is to feature works directly inspired by ancient sources; Xenakis's contribution is a 1975 percussion spotlight titled Psappha. The concert also presents a rare chance to hear the music of Jani Christou, the unsung hero of Greek musical modernism. Roughly Xenakis's contemporary, Christou was killed in a car accident in 1970, and his oeuvre is virtually impossible to obtain on record. It took me five years of heavy hunting to track down a Greek EMI LP of his late works, including the incredible Anaparastasis I, which Klang will perform here. It's based on Agamemnon, with a terrifying baritone vocal set against a small chamber ensemble. Anaparastasis I was first conducted the year it was composed (1968) by Theodore Antoniou, whose second violin concerto, from 1989, will receive its Chicago premiere here, featuring Rachel Barton. Also on the bill are a 1986 piano concerto by Alexandros Kalogeras and Michalis Lapidakis's Taksim, from 1991. The Lapidakis features remarkable mandolinist Dimitri Marinos. Friday, 8 PM, North Shore Center for the Performing Arts in Skokie, 9501 Skokie Blvd., Skokie; 847-673-6300. JOHN CORBETT

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo by Bart Watowski.


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