For over twenty years Greek composer Eleni Karaindrou has been scoring the films of Theo Angelopoulos with a kind of sensitivity to script that has compelled Angelopoulos to write, "Eleni Karaindrou's music doesn't accompany the imagesit penetrates the images, it becomes an inextricable part of the images." While watching any Angelopoulos film that Karaindrou has scoredincluding earlier works like The Suspended Step of the Stork
and the more recent Eternity and a Day
demonstrates just how accurate Angelopoulos' assessment is, what makes Karaindrou's music even more vivid is its inclusive narrative sense. Listen to any of her five previous recordings on ECM and one's imagination is immediately freed to evoke images more personal; conversely, viewing the stills from the films, in the booklets that accompany the discs, creates an inextricable link to Angelopoulos' own inventions.
While some film music can be called incidental, it would be impossible to define Karaindrou's music as such. And as some composers rely on stock melodramatic devices to enhance or even manipulate the emotive power of a film, Karaindrou uses nothing so obvious. Instead, she searches for themessometimes but a single themethat can be expanded, contracted, broken into components and scored with a variety of instruments, to work together with a film, creating something greater than either sight or sound. It is true that Karaindrou's scores are best experienced when integrated with Angelopoulos' images, but they also stand alone as complete pieces of music with their own sensibilities and evocative arcs.
The Weeping Meadow, Karaindrou's latest score, is a hauntingly beautiful piece of music that hovers in the air, only occasionally touching down into something more specific. Based on the image of a landscape in the midst, the music has a serenity, occasionally interjected with melancholy, linking to the film's characters who struggle to find the meaning of freedom for themselves. While the ethnic instruments and music of her native country are an integral part of Karaindrou's musical language, so too are elements including the backgrounds of her chosen ensemble, musicians from far and wide who seem to connect to the theme of exile integral to the film.
The string orchestra creates a gentle sense of floating, over which instruments including violoncello, accordion, French horn, violin, and Constantinople lyra develop Karaindrou's gentle theme. Delicately, with no sense of dramatic urgency, Karaindrou once again relies on a theme that is interpreted, reinterpreted, stretched and reduced to smaller components. That Karaindrou chooses to work with a single melodic idea, providing an aural link that ties together the entire narrative, is in contrast to more conventional film scoring, where each character or idea has its own motif. It's a simpler philosophy, but one resulting in an integrated musical landscape that mirrors the various times, places and circumstances through which the film's characters must travel.
Filled with a paradoxically elegant plaintiveness, The Weeping Meadow is a compelling work which places pure and untarnished emotion over the more boldly melodramatic, making it all the more convincing.
Personnel: Eleni Karaindrou (piano, composer), Maria Bildea (harp), Renato Ripo (violoncello), Konstantinos Raptis (accordion), Socratis Sinopoulos (Constantinople lyra), Vangelis Skouras (French horn), Sergiu Nastasa (violin), Angelos Repapis (double-bass)
Hellenic Vocal Ensemble, Antonis Kontogeorgiou directing
La Camerata, Athens (string orchestra)