Irene Papas,
(Spheric BV, 1979)

Well known sounds of music and those long forgotten poets,
Eternal essence of an everlasting column,
Condensed emotions of all races and nations,
Songs of my childhood, first beloved tunes and the singing of my life,
Hymn to the cycles of the twitching cells,
Odes to mankind;
Common remembrance and the art of selection,
Those which survive centuries and those which cross spaces,
Songs of the ancient time and songs that belong to us,
Songs to share and songs to unite, common roots and common fate of mortality,
And then I started to sing...

"The Forty Brave," a song that deals with 40 young warriors heading for Tripolitsa to set the town free in the 14th century, when most of Greece was enslaved and the Greek people struggled for freedom.

The excellent singing of Irene Papas, who wrote the lines above in her notes for Odes, is supported by a choir and brilliant instrumentation: synthesizer, organ, drums and bouzouki. "Neranzoula, the Small Orange Tree" is a sad lament about the loss of youth, when the winds from the North with their icy hearts have destroyed the tender blossoms and thus the beauty of Neranzoula. "The Dance of the Fire" is composed by Vangelis, and when you listen to this instrumental track you can see the sparkles of a big fire enlightening the flushed faces of the people, you can hear the celebration's racket and you can smell the sweet scent of wine and the spicy smell of broiled meat.

"The Kolokotroneis" deals with a family as an allegory for the virtues of the Greek heart and soul, pride, courage and strength. Papas sings this hymn without any instrumental support, just a nuance of doubling effect on her voice. "The River" is a wonderful ode to the beauty and omniscience of a river, which sees everything while descending to the ocean. It's a different approach than Smetana's Moldau, but a brilliant arrangement by Vangelis anyhow.

"Roots" is another composition by Vangelis, who remembers landscapes, shepherds, dreams, cicadas, butterflies and red poppy flowers in the midst of cornfields. His synthesizer plays the flute, organ, bass and, again, there is the bouzouki. "The Lament," an ancient funeral song, is hauntingly and beautifully sung and marvellously accompanied by the synthesizer. The final song, "Menousis," tells a story of love, jealousy and death. Menousis was drinking with his friends when one of them told him that his beautiful wife had given him a kiss. Furious and drunk, Menousis returned home and stabbed his wife. At the dawn, Menousis realized what he had done and, sobbing, pleaded with his wife to come back to life. But the body was deaf, only the soul could hear it.

Odes is an album full of the most beautiful ancient Greek songs.

- Rambles
written by Adolf Goriup
published 5 June 2004

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