ARCHiPELAGOS | Passages (Chronicle)
Amélia Muge | Michales Loukovikas
Over the Aegean islands | – come out and see! –
angels are flapping their wings | scattering roses…
I. REVISITANDO O ARQUIPÉLAGO | THE ARCHIPELAGO REVISITED
1. O arquipélago | The Archipelago
(a. Is Ionia in Bloom? / b. Where Is Athens?)
2. Κατολοφύρομαι (Katolophýromae) | I’m Wailing in Lament (Orestes)
Hélia Correia is in our hearts; she’s also in the heart of our Archipelagos! Our longest sequence is mainly based on her long poem, The Third Misery, which she begins citing Friedrich Hölderlin (from his poem Bread and Wine: What’s the use, what is the purpose of a poet in times of such indigence?). We followed in her steps and chose to have as a starting point his poem, The Archipelago. Then, during a trip up north, Amélia Muge convinced her old mother, Maria José, to recite with her some parts of the poem, and José Martins was there to record them. Good material to begin with… Now that I’m thinking about it, I feel it was a pity that Amélia’s daughter, Cristiana, did not take part, as well: we would have three generations reciting together!
The Archipelago, as Hölderlin reminded us, was originally the Aegean Sea and its islands. Therefore we had to start with Aegean music. I think we could find no better melody as an introduction than the beautiful traditional song whose first stanza you can read above. Yet, we felt that some Portuguese flavour was needed. So, next to Kyriakos Gouventas’ violin, we added the guitarra of Ricardo Parreira. Excellent combination!
Then we had to solve the problem of the sea. Initially, I added sea sounds (waves, seagulls, etc.) but Amélia objected: Too realistic, she said. And then she had an excellent idea: What about voices instead of waves? José and me replied in chorus: Yes! That’s it! Well, these choral waves, designed by José, and sung by Maria Monda (Sofia, Susana, Tânia), Cramol and Teresa Campos, made me feel they’re not only sea waves, but also those angels flying over the Aegean, scattering roses…
That was the first, bright, rosy part of the poem (Is Ionia in Bloom?). In the second part, the dark, gloomy one (Where Is Athens?), I rearranged an old composition of mine (from The Gold in the Sky, on poetry by Ares Alexandrou) to pave the way to Euripides and Orestes, his tragedy. The stasimon Katolophýromae, introduced by Harris Lambrakis on the ney and recorder, is performed in ancient Greek by a chorus composed by Amélia, Andreas Karakotas, Manos Achalinotópoulos, and me as the coryphaeus. (We write about Euripides and Orestes in our Archipaedia, in the eBook accompanying the CD, where there is a wealth of information around Archipelagos. Much of this information is also presented here in our blog, following the links you see in the titles of each sequence).
1. Friedrich Hölderlin (Der Archipelagus, 1800-1801, excerpts, adapted into Portuguese by Amélia Muge) | a. Aegean traditional / b. Michales Loukovikas | Arranged by M. Loukovikas, A. J. Martins
2. Euripides (Orestes, 408 BCE, fragments: strophe–antistrophe) | Adapted-Arranged by M. Loukovikas
Entering a time/space ship, we voyaged a millennium back, from Athens in 408 BCE to Ugarit, Syria, ca. 1400, listening to a Hurrian hymn. To tell you the truth, after Euripides, I was not so much fascinated; but Amélia was amazed, struck by its similarity to a Portuguese anti-fascist hymn: José Gomes Ferreira and Fernando Lopes-Graça’s Acordai! (Wake Up!). My oriental heart, on the other hand, was moved by some renditions of the Hurrian hymn in the chromatic genus. The problem was that these renditions moved away from Acordai. That’s why we decided to have the hymn in two variations, as a diatonic lullaby close to Acordai, and as a diatonic-chromatic lament about the refugees’ tragedy.
I was so shocked when I saw by the seaside the body of an infant who drowned while his family tried to pass from Turkey to Greece. My lyrics begin with a phrase I heard from another refugee in Morocco, who could not cross the Gibraltar Strait to Spain: Every time I turn and see the sea, tears start falling down… My friend Andreas Karakotas interpreted the song so well tele-directed by me: I was in Lisbon, he was in Salonica! Ana Dias with her harp created the proper background here, as well as in the Imaginary Island of Utopia.
3. Amélia Muge / José Gomes Ferreira (excerpt from Acordai!) | Ancient Hurrian hymn (fragment) / Fernando Lopes-Graça (excerpt from Acordai!) | Adapted by A. Muge. Αrranged by A. J. Martins
11. Michales Loukovikas | Ancient Hurrian hymn (fragment) | Adapted-Arranged by M. Loukovikas
Macaronesia consists of four archipelagos in the North Atlantic: the Azores and Madeira (Portugal), the Canaries (Spain), and Cape Verde. The name is derived from the Hellenic term Μακάρων Νῆσοι (Macárōn Nẽsoe, or Fortunate Isles, Isles of the Blessed), used by geographers for the Elysian islands to the west of the Pillars of Heracles (Strait of Gibraltar), a winterless earthly paradise, which according to Hesiod were the Elysian Fields, inhabited by heroes. Strabo identified them with the isles of the Hesperides.
Amélia’s Swinging Lament, dedicated to Cesária Évora, has this magic touch: I’ve loved it since the first time I listened to it. As the finale of a Macaronesian saga, it’s even better! Featured in this sequence is Amélia in the lead voice – together with Rita Maria who sings the Castilian part of the Wheat Dance – as well as Maria Monda and me in the vocals.
4. Traditionals of the Canaries & the Azores, Amélia Muge | Arranged by A. J . Martins, A. Muge
5. Traditional of the Canaries, Amélia Muge | Arranged by A. J. Martins, A. Muge
6. Amélia Muge | Arranged by M. Loukovikas, A. J. Martins
IV. PENAS DE AMOR O QUE SÃO? | WHAT IS TO SUFFER FROM LOVE?
7. A tentação | Temptation
8. Δέδυκε ἀ σελάννα / Lua desceu, mergulhou | The Moon Has Set Down
(a. The Moon Has Set Down / b. Meanings Are Divided / c. Eros)
Thanks to Amélia, who had the idea about her, I searched a lot, reading Sapphic poetry, and combined three fragments to compose:(*) The Moon Has Set Down, Meanings Are Divided, Eros. Moreover, I convinced Amélia she can also sing in ancient Hellenic (something that she described as… jumping into the abyss)! In this “jump” here, she is accompanied by Rita Maria, Catarina Anacleto and Maria Monda.
(*) Although her poetry was well-known and greatly admired in antiquity, most of it survives only in fragments, mainly because the Christian Church disapproved of her morals and the ecclesiastical authorities loved to burn her anthologies…
7. Hélia Correia | Amélia Muge | Arranged by F. Raposo
8. Sappho (in ancient Greek – and in Portuguese adapted by Amélia Muge) | Michales Loukovikas | Adapted-Arranged by M. Loukovikas
This sequence is dedicated to Fernando Pessoa. Slumber of Being is another favourite song of mine composed by Amélia. Her singing here is one of those rare moments; she’s accompanied excellently by Filipe Raposo.
The Hours, one of Pessoa’s English Poems, stands out, as well. I composed it for Sofia Vitória’s Echoes. I’m happy it was finally left out, so we can have it here with my… heavy metal arrangement reinforced by Kostas Hanís’ vibraphone and António Quintino’s double bass! Amélia and I synchronized our voices while the girls (Maria Monda) tuned themselves in chorus with us.
Amélia was fascinated by the way I composed this song. It was during one of my afternoon walks around my neighbourhood and I had The Hours stuck in my mind. I remembered Pink Floyd’s Time and the clocks ringing as soon as it started, and I decided to begin with clocks clicking the seconds, the minutes, The Hours… I walked that fast murmuring Fernando’s words and, all of a sudden, the bass line appeared! I kept on repeating this line, as I had nothing on me to record it, lest I forgot it until I reached home. By the time I arrived there, Fernando also offered me the basic melodic line! I worked furiously for Hours; I stopped only when I had even the arrangement ready. Overjoyed, I sent it immediately to Amélia…
9. Fernando Pessoa | Amélia Muge | Arranged by F. Raposo
10. Fernando Pessoa | Michales Loukovikas | Arranged by M. Loukovikas
That’s the sequence of… fadobetiko (a term coined by Amélia). Her song, à la fado corrido, is based on a satiric poem by João de Deus, one of the greatest Portuguese poets of the 19th century. The intro to the song, played by Kyriakos Gouventas, has North Balkan flavour, because the poem starts with a reference to Transylvania.
The tragic Nicolas, the Fisherman combines two of the greatest rebetiko composers: Vasilis Tsitsanis, one of the founders of modern rebetiko (paving the way for great composers such as Manos Hadjidakis and Mikis Theodorakis); and Giorgos Mitsakis, a skillful composer and lyricist, nicknamed the master as a bouzouki player.
With throbbing emotion (I burst out in tears while singing in the studio; Amélia and the sound engineer, Christos Megas, thought I was laughing…), I present the tragic figure of a black-dressed mother who is standing for months by the seaside, waiting for her son, Nicolas, to return to shore, as no one has the courage to tell her he drowned… This song moved the Portuguese, as well. I was told of black-dressed women who are still standing by the seaside gazing at the sea with empty eyes…
12. João de Deus | Amélia Muge | Arranged by A.J. Martins
13. Giorgos Mitsakis | Vasilis Tsitsanis | Arranged by M. Loukovikas
Our fascination with imaginary and mythic places. So good that musically it ends up in Thrace, where I was born, with a… legendary zonarádikos dance, sung by Amélia and Maria Monda, and played by Manos Achalinotópoulos and Harris Lambrakis on the clarino (folk clarinet) and ney. But before that, we voyage to the islands of Thomas More’s Utopia (with Amélia also recalling Ares Alexandrou’s empty Mission Box), Odysseus and Penelope’s Ithaca, until, finally, we run aground on J. M. Barrie’s Neverland, finding not Peter Pan and Tinker Bell there, but some very peculiar Lost Kids.
14. Amélia Muge | Arranged by A. J. Martins, F. Raposo | Dedicated to Ares Alexandrou
15. Amélia Muge | Arranged by A. J. Martins, F. Raposo
16. Amélia Muge | Thracian traditional, A. Muge | Arranged by A. J. Martins, M. Loukovikas
VIII. EM TEMPO DE INDIGÊNCIA | IN TIMES OF INDIGENCE
17. Sem Deuses | Without Gods
18. Nós | We
19. Feitiço (Experimentos) | Spell (Experiments)
20. As ilhas do Egeu | The Aegean Islands
21. A ruína da Grécia | The Ruin of Hellas
22. Falamos de sombras (Democracia) | We Talk About Shadows (Democracy)
23. Um início | A Beginning
Hélia’s sequence based on excerpts from her poems The Third Misery and Indignation (We and Spell are from Indignation; the rest are from The Third Misery). As I have said, she begins citing Hölderlin: What’s the use, what is the purpose of a poet in times of such indigence? She also refers to him several times, especially when she speaks about Athens, as her poem is dedicated to Greece.(*) I was flattered when I saw the Parthenon on the cover of the book; Amélia was left speechless when she read the poem. We both decided this would be our main sequence.
(*) As I explained talking about Periplus, our previous work, Hélia is an enthusiastic hellenist and philhellene, who reinterpreted Hellenic myths from the point of view of female heroines, such as Antigone, Helen, and Medea. In her major poem, The Third Misery, and also in Indignation, both dedicated to Greece, she refers to Jason’s Argonauts, to the ancient Agora of the Hellenic poleis, to Homer’s Odyssey, to The Aegean Islands and The Ruin of Hellas, to the ancient gods, Pan and Alexandria, to Pericles and democracy. When she was awarded the Camões Prize (2015), the most prestigious literary distinction in the Lusophone world, she dedicated it to Hellas, where poetry comes from, without which we would be nothing and have nothing, as she said, concluding her speech with the exclamation Long live Greece! Therefore it’s a double pity that no one is interested in publishing The Third Misery in Greece. Well, this is a fourth misery on the modern Greeks’ part!
Hölderlin’s citation in Without Gods is repeated in The Aegean Islands, in a completely different soundscape. Here, after many experiments, I used as a model the introduction to Echo, a composition by Manos Achalinotópoulos, developing it further as a free improvisation. As Manos is in our team, I was able to work on my idea with him. Harris Lambrakis, Amélia and Kyriakos Gouventas improvised, as well. So good, Hélia recited her own poetry!
We and The Ruin of Hellas are twin songs; Hélia’s poems here are also twins! I remember hearing inside me the melody of the Ruin already from the first time I read “Nós, os ateus, nós, os monoteístas,” (We, the atheists, we, the monotheists)… Then, changing the rhythm from five beats to six, I rearranged it to the verses of We.
I admit I knew almost nothing about Hölderlin. Trying to learn more in Wikipedia, I saw the card with the basic information: “Born – 20 March…” (Oh, I thought, same day with me!) “… 1770” (Gee, same year with Ludwig!!) At once, I thought of something that was more than crazy: Well, how about it? Third Misery… Third Symphony! Let me see… To tell you the truth, I didn’t expect much. I started humming the Misery to Beethoven’s Marcia funebre, in the Second Movement of his Eroica. I began with the 25th part of the poem, “Yes, we talk about shadows”… as it seemed to me more suitable. I was amazed! But there was more melody. So, now let’s go back and try the 23rd part, “The third misery is this one”… I was astonished!! A little more and we finish the first part of the Marcia, I thought. This little more was found in the 32nd part of the Misery: “All the squares seem like agoras of yore”… Most fantastic of all: Ludwig’s melody finished with Hélia’s “fervent word of democracy” – incredible!!! IT’S A MIRACLE!..
I searched for Beethoven’s score. I had adapted by heart the same melody in a previous work of mine (The Gold in the Sky); but this time I wanted to be precise. I meticulously rearranged his score, assigning his melodic lines to other instruments, leaving nothing out (I hope). The final crash test came when I presented my loucura to Amélia. As I don’t speak Portuguese, I realized that several words or phrases were out of place, not well adapted with the music. Her help in this matter was crucial. And then it was my turn to convince her that I did not want an operatic voice, I would hate such a voice, and perhaps even Ludwig might not like it – or else, why did he write Sotto voce under the title? I meant to say, I wanted her voice. Done! I’m very proud of the result – even if some purists will moan…
I can say here what I said before about Euripides: I do hope that if Ludwig listened to us, he would smile and applaud approvingly, despite the brickbats thrown by such purists! Featured also here, except Maria Monda, are Rui Vaz, José Manuel David and Pedro Casaes in the vocals, Filipe Raposo on the piano, as well as my friend Kosmás Papadópoulos with his clarinet.
What can anybody compose after such music? I guess Amélia did not even think about it – and she did very well; and presented such a graceful melody for A Beginning, standing next to Ludwig as equal! I consider this composition of hers as the best in our Archipelagos.
17. Hélia Correia | Amélia Muge | Arranged by A. Muge, A. J. Martins, M. Loukovikas
18. Hélia Correia | Michales Loukovikas | Arranged by M. Loukovikas
19. Hélia Correia (A. Muge) | Amélia Muge | Arranged by A. J. Martins, F. Raposo
20. Hélia Correia | Manos Achalinotópoulos, Amélia Muge | Arranged by M. Loukovikas
A free improvisation by H. Lambrakis, M. Achalanitópoulos, A. Muge, K. Gouventas
21. Hélia Correia | Michales Loukovikas | Arranged by M. Loukovikas
22. Hélia Correia | Ludwig van Beethoven (The Third Symphony, Eroica, 1804, Second Movement, first part: Marcia funebre, Adagio assai, Sotto voce) | Adapted-Arranged by M. Loukovikas
23. Hélia Correia | Amélia Muge | Arranged by A. J. Martins, F. Raposo
IX. JÁ SE DÃO AS VOLTAS TODAS | NOSTALGIA AND NOSTOS
24. Νοσταλγία: Το παράπονο του μετανάστη | Nostalgia: A Migrant’s Yearning
25. Nostalgia: Cantar de emigração | Nostalgia: Singing of Emigration
(a. Sodade / b. Run-Run se fue pa’l norte / c. Cantar de emigração / d. A Migrant’s Yearning)
26. Alegria | Jubilation (Alegria)
Our sequence about Migrations and Homecomings. Embracing several ideas of Amélia’s, I combined a rebetiko by Vasilis Tsitsanis (also known with the title Like an outcast I’m drifting about), with Rosalía de Castro and José Niza’s Cantar de emigração, Violeta Parra’s Run-Run se fue pa´l norte, and Armando Soares’ Sodade. Amélia had listened to me singing this rebetiko and sent me an adaptation of hers that reminded me of a fado. This was also included as an instrumental part. Moreover, I’m so happy to have here representatives of all four female choirs that Amélia invited for the project De Viva Voz (I was so deeply moved in that concert!): Cramol en masse, Maria Monda, Catarina Moura from Segue-me à Capela, and Teresa Campos from Sopa de Pedra, plus Rita, Rui, David and Pedro, Paló and Mariana Abrunheiro, Amélia and me – starting off in this adventure Like an outcast drifting about…
24. Vasilis Tsitsanis | Arranged by M. Loukovikas
25. a. Armando Soares (adapted by M. Loukovikas) / b. Violeta Parra / c. Rosalía de Castro (adapted into Portuguese by J. Niza) | José Niza / d. Vasilis Tsitsanis (adapted by A. Muge) | Arranged by M. Loukovikas, A. Muge
26. José Saramago | Giorgos Andreou | Adapted by A. Muge, A.J. Martins. Arranged by G. Andreou
X. O QUE AS ONDAS CONTAM | SEA WAVES TELLING TALES
27. Κύματα μύρια τού πελάγου / Ondas do mar de Vigo | Myriad Waves of the Sea of Vigo)
28. Contas do mar (Bulería de Sines) | Sea Tales of Pearls (Bulería of Sines)
Our last sequence begins with another adaptation of Amélia’s, combining a Cantiga de amigo by Martín Codax, with a rebetiko of Smyrna by Panaiotis Tountas, sung in both languages. Working at that time on Tountas’ songs, Women’s Portraits of Rebetiko, “painted” with his excellent Art of Modulation, I used to send copies of my work to Amélia; she thanked me, and wished me well on my birthday, with this beautiful adaptation.
Our finale is a peculiar Bulería I composed in Sines in 2012. We had gone there to arrange for our performance, presenting Periplus in the Festival Músicas do Mundo. We played the Bulería in its initial form in that concert. Since then we have changed the interposed song; what we have now is more suitable for a bulería as it also has a Spanish flavour, and I consider it Pan-Iberian; that’s why I combine Ricardo Parreira’s guitarra portuguesa with Thomás Natsis’ guitarra flamenca. It is sung so beautifully by Catarina Moura and Teresa Campos, together with Maria Monda, Amélia and, at last, a children’s choir. As Maria Graciete Besse aptly remarked analyzing Archipelagos:
“The disc begins with a voice of wisdom that recites Hölderlin’s verses (Amélia’s mother, aged 98) and ends with a children’s choir, thus designing an itinerary that is projected into the future.”
27. Martín Codax (also adapted into Greek by Michales Loukovikas) | Panaiotis Tountas | Adapted by A. Muge. Arranged by M. Loukovikas (A major medieval Galician minstrel’s Cantiga de amigo combined with a melody by the greatest composer of the rebetiko of Smyrna)
28. Amélia Muge | Michales Loukovikas, Portuguese traditional | Arranged by M. Loukovikas, A. Muge
Amélia Muge: voice, guitarra braguesa, percussion | Michales Loukovikas: voice, accordion, sound effects
Manos Achalinotópoulos: clarino (folk clarinet), voice | Kyriakos Gouventas: violin, viola (5-string violin) | Harris Lambrakis: ney, recorder (pipes) | Maria Monda trio: Sofia Adriana Portugal, Susana Quaresma, Tânia Cardoso | Dimitris Mystakidis: guitar, bouzouki, baglamás, tzourás (the bouzouki family) | Ricardo Parreira: guitarra portuguesa | António Quintino: double bass | Filipe Raposo: piano, accordion, synthesizers | José Salgueiro: percussion
Mariana Abrunheiro: voice | Catarina Anacleto: cello, voice | Niovi Benou: claps | Teresa Campos: voice | Pedro Casaes: voice | José Manuel David: voice | Ana Dias: harp | Kostas Hanís: vibraphone | Andreas Karakotas: voice | António José Martins: music box, percussion | Catarina Moura: voice | Thomás Natsis: flamenco guitar, claps | Paló: voice | Kosmás Papadópoulos: clarinet | Rita Maria: voice | Rui Vaz: voice
Hélia Correia & Maria José Muge: recitation | Cramol: female vocal group of the Workers’ Library of Oeiras | PSO: Plucked Strings Orchestra ‘Thanasis Thipinakis’ of the Patras Municipality | Children’s Choir, dir. Catarina Anacleto: Santiago Fantasia, Gabriel Leite, Sophia Van Epps, Ana Pita, Marta Semblano, Patrícia Arens Teixeira.
Manos Achalinotópoulos | Giorgos Andreou | Ludwig van Beethoven (1770 – 1827) | Rosalía de Castro (1837 – 1885) | Martín Codax (13th – 14th centuries) | Hélia Correia | João de Deus (1830 – 1896) | Euripides (c. 480 – 406 BCE) | José Gomes Ferreira (1900 – 1985) | Friedrich Hölderlin (1770 – 1843) | Anonymous Hurrian (c. 1400 BCE) | Fernando Lopes-Graça (1904 – 1994) | Michales Loukovikas | Giorgos Mitsakis (1921 – 1993) | Amélia Muge | José Niza (1938 – 2011) | Violeta Parra (1917 – 1967) | Fernando Pessoa (1888 – 1935) | Sappho (c. 630 – 570 BCE) | José Saramago (1922-2010) | Armando Soares (1920 – 2007) | Panaiotis Tountas (1886-1942) | Vasilis Tsitsanis (1915 – 1984)