If you are like I was the day before yesterday, you know the Greek composer Manos Hadjidakis solely by virtue of the classic soundtrack for Never on Sunday, for which he won the Oscar for Best Original Song in 1960. If you are like me today you would on Thursday evening have attended an intimate and revelatory rendition of selections from the MAGNUS EROTICUS, a song cycle by Hadjidakis set to pieces of poetry ranging from the ancient Greek, through the medieval period, and up to the last part of the 20th century. You would, I daresay, be wishing for more from what turns out to have been an atavistically alluring repertory, one that suggests the persistence of the ancient in the modern. The spirit of music, to borrow the phrase from Nietzsche, is much alive in this work.
The singer was Stratos Achlatis, whom I know from his occasional excursions into tango singing; it was a pleasure to hear the richness of his voice applied to his own language in both its ancient and modern stages. On the accordion, he produced notes both haunting and spry, and he was evocatively accompanied by Costas Baltazanis on the guitar. In addition to the songs from MAGNUS EROTICUS there was a memorably beautiful selection from the same Hadjidakis’s opera of Aristophanes’s The Birds.
The setting was the Greek furniture store Coco-mat, specializing in organic materials, which has managed to endure the current crisis, even to the point of expanding into New York’s SoHo.
To hear more of Stratos Ahlatis, click here.