"Simply Mavroudis"

The music on this CD is Greek acoustic music composed by Notis Mavroudis for soprano Julie Ziavras. The collection features acoustic and classical instruments combined with traditional Greek instruments such as bouzouki, tzoura, using Greek traditional rhythms and modes to create a unique sound in listening music. All of the songs in this collection were composed, arranged and conducted by Notis Mavroudis who also participates as classical guitarist and vocalist. They were written expressly for this recording, with exception of songs 4 & 12, and are the only collection of songs Mr. Mavroudis has written exclusively for one singer. The songs were recorded in Athens and are sung in Greek. A booklet of translations with notes on the genre of each song is included with the CD. I hope that this CD, which was recorded in Athens, will result in exposing more people to this ancient, beautiful and topical genre.

I am also very proud to have had the participation of the Greek National Radio and Television Chorus (ERT) in selections 8, 11 and 12. The composer and I would like to respectfully dedicate the final selection of this album to the memory of the eminent late Greek composer Manos Hadjidakis, whose musical influence can be heard in all Greek music of this genre and throughout this album. He had granted sole permission to Mr. Mavroudis to set selections from his volume of poetry to music, resulting in the last selection of this CD. This selection, Love Ode or "Erotiko", is respectfully dedicated to Manos Hadjidakis.

Selections from this recording were premiered with great success on a concert tour of Greece which ended in Serbia. The Serbian concert was especially significant because it was the first time western artists had been invited to Belgrade since the borders were reopened. This performance, which commemorated the reopening of the National Museum in Belgrade was performed live and simulcast on both national radio and television and received with great success.

with notes on the genre

1.Eastern Hideaways
"Sta Stekia tis Anatolis"

Lyrics: Nana Nikolaou

The music of this song reflects the Rebetika tradition which was music brought to Greece by the Greek refugees from Asia Minor. Rebetika, which is often referred to as the blues of Greece, combines eastern Byzantine modes, Greek polyrhythms and improvisation which is often heard in the voice of the bouzouki. The girl in this song is depicted in an eastern setting singing rebellious songs in an eastern mode. There are references to Markos Vamvakaris and Vassilis Tsitsanis, who are considered two of the most revered Rebetika composers.

I spotted you Sunday night at one of those eastern hideaways
wearing a blue dress and singing Tsitsanis.
I saw you again at dusk washed by the evening light;
your glance was fierce for your fate was now written...
Just like the sea blue of Greece,
and with an impoverished purse
a lone voice beckoning from Byzantium.
I saw you in the marketplace amidst speeches and demonstrations
singing traditional folk music, living an illusion.
I saw you in the midst of a dance -
you passionately captivated us,
singing a tune by old man Markos (Vamvakaris) eyes brimming with tears...
Just like the sea blue of Greece...

2. My Body

Lyrics: Akis Daskalopoulos

Akis Daskalopoulos has been one of the most prominent lyricists in Greece for the past two decades, writing lyrics for Mikis Theodorakis, among others. This song exemplifies how his work is often considered poetry and not just song lyrics.

My body is like a small boat setting sail;
half of the earth, half of the soil,
like a map leading us away.
We were left upon this sphere like two lone hands, unable to see that the body was created for the world but our souls did not know how to traverse it...
Body, my body,
before this ship takes me into the night
let me kiss this mouth here on earth,
before the ship takes me into the night.

3. I Dance

Lyrics: Nana Nikolaou

This song written in an allegro zeibekiko dance rhythm uses the beautiful sea shore as the backdrop for a carefree dance of emotional abandon.

I weave myself a dress of seaweed,
wear the wind as a necklace,
the salt of the sea as lipstick and a seashell as a ring.
I dance upon the waves, dancing.
Upon the white crests I ride.
My soaked steps lead me far away from you, dancing...
I've buried my remorse in the sand
so that I won't miss you now that I am leaving.
Into the depths I throw my tears so that I can see the horizon once again.
I dance...
Finally, I've said to you "no",
and I've slipped away from abstinence.
Here on the dance floor at the foot of the sea,
you have been written off!

4. The Wedding Garlands
"Ta Stefania"

Poem taken from an ancient epitaph, translated into modern Greek by Ilias Petropoulos and part of his collection compiled from Plato's Anthology. The music reflects the period in which the text was written, using Byzantine modes and a tzoura as a solo improvisatory instrument. The unusual haunting sound of the tzoura closely reflects it's more archaic Byzantine predecessors, which were also small round-bodied instruments with elongated necks that were picked with a tortoise shell pick. In this song, a bride laments the loss of her spouse. She sings of the wedding garlands made of blossoms that are worn on the heads of the bride and groom in Eastern Orthodox wedding ceremonies, just as they were in the early centuries after Christ when this epitaph was written.

Up high you will remain, my wedding garlands,
high above the double doors, you will remain
never to blossom again.
Garlands which I have moistened with my tears;
always tearful are the eyes of this lover.
But those doors, should they open and he appear,
Then they will blossom! and my fair one can drink of my tears, all my bitter tears.
There up high you will remain, my wedding garlands, never to blossom again.

5.Narrow Winding Road
"Tenia Dromou"

Lyrics: Nana Nikoloaou

Written in a Hasapiko dance rhythm, this seemingly simple song talks woefully about modern day life in Greece using ancient references. After serious reflection, the author playfully longs to escape in a truck which aimlessly takes her off.

I wake at night and you, beside me, are complaining- another day has passed us by.
As you lie sleeping,
I wish to make sails of the sheets and fly away.
Odysseus no longer listens to the Sirens,
Circes has gotten too old to cast spells,
Loneliness buys the beers at the bars,
Eros seeks out her poet Alkeo.
I'll leave in an old stolen truck stopping at some far off market chasing my lost dream
on a narrow winding road to Purgatory.
I wake up nights while you weep and I agonize; wishing I could make the bed into a ship so that within it's cabin I could bring you a smile-
you would laugh and brighten the room.
But Cupid no longer has wings that fly.
He has become a statue in the central piazza
History has crashed upon the rocks while the city drunkenly entwines us.
I'll leave in an old stolen truck...

6. It Gets Dark Early Now
"Tora Nichtoni Apo Noris"

Lyrics: Yannis Pantsopoulos

The languid strings in this song soulfully reflect the loneliness described in the lyrics. A smoky voice cries out through the darkness of the orchestration.

It gets dark earlier now and I sleep alone.
Evening is in abundance and the world closes in.
It gets dark earlier upon this body that you once embraced and upon the mouth you once kissed.
Now darkness falls upon the loneliness and it brings absence, confusing the heart,
preventing it from finding meaning.
Now darkness falls upon the loneliness and every moment kills,
every second is torture dulling the mind.
It gets dark earlier now upon these eyes that you once gazed upon,
upon the tears you offered,
upon the words you asked of me.
It gets dark earlier now behind locked doors;
upon the truths that you shattered,
and upon betrayed love.
Now darkness falls upon the loneliness...

7. I Will Come To Paint You
"Tha'r'tho na se Zografiso"

Lyrics: Akis Daskalopoulos

This song reflects the composer's affinity for the folk ballad while exemplifying his agility on the classical guitar.

I will come to your threshold to portray you
leaving not another trace in the vast night…
Twice I shall embrace you;
twice I shall be resurrected,
within the moon's rays I will come for sleep to take me.
And if I return one night not to find you,
I will embrace the moon upon the shores of the universe.

8. The Tale
"To Paramithi"

Lyrics: Nana Nikolaou

The lyrics of this song refer to the life of the Greeks living in Constantinople before they were exiled during the fall of Smyrna. There are references to the foods of the region, using local dialect. The National Chorus of ERT participates in this selection. The term twice until death is a legal term of condemnation, a reference to the loss of their life style.

I will offer you preserves and sesame Halvah from Constantinople,
and in the mad sweltering afternoon,
I will refresh you with well water.
Come and sit on grandmother's duvet
and listen as I speak to you from the heart:
forget tonight's soap operas and the news
I'll take you to a far off, different Greece,
one that will intoxicate you.
Gone, the tale is over; it was stolen from us,
never to be returned.
A mock trail was arranged:
Twice until death was the verdict.
I will offer you some home made iced cream,
with a rich cream as sweet as your eyes,
garnished with leaves of basil,
that you will adorn me with when I next see you.
Come and light a Greek cigarette,
within it's cloud of smoke you will fly
to Smyrna, Alexandria, Odessa...
a modern day Greece you'll seek to change.
Gone, the tale is over...

9. A Bit Of Shame
"To Ligo tis Dropis"

Lyrics: Yannis Pantsopoulos

This playful song written in a jazz-like style introduces the voice of the composer in the refrain.
Our life is faded like the color red bleached
and washed out by the rain

with an aspirin our mind tries to find the emotions that have endured.
My little half-shaded moon;
our love is like a yellow traffic light,
with a bit of shame that remains,
a reckless razorblade that slashes.
Always the innocent, in Paradise's garden you left me with the apple of wrath
Always arriving when I am away,
and at night, as always, you're late.
My little half-shaded moon...
When the fan blows upon you
I am afraid you might catch cold-
your mother always asks if I watch out for you,
that nothing should ever happen to her child.

10. Simply

Lyrics: Nana Nikolaou

In this simple poignant love duet, the voice of the composer can be heard, not as a singer, but as a voice expressing the simplicity of the lyric that holds a very special personal significance.

I feel the burning fever on your forehead,
and a short lyric comes forth to speak from my lips.
Of the rain itself, two droplets,
that once they fall to the earth, drift away alone.
I love you, it's that simple;
our past moments we'll relive.
I love you, and all I ask of you is that we get to know one another anew.
The fever seems to have passed from your forehead and the lyric smiles from your lips.
As the rain falls and refreshes us, our love,
that we fought for has been victorious.

11. At The Castles of Monemvasia
"Sta Kastra tis Monemvasias"

Lyrics: Akis Daskalopoulos

Monemvasia, located on a tiny island off of the southern tip of the Peleponese is one of the most picturesque and beloved spots in Greece. This Venetian city with Byzantine architecture has retained the illusion of centuries past. While visiting this enchanted place, one feels as though time has stood still. In this song, a widow still looks to the sea for the image of her lost love.

The wind never ceases at the castles of Monemvasia.
Should your image appear at their stone entranceway,
The sight would stun me.
The blind bird of night rains tears upon my eyes,
I can no longer breathe
hearing the silence of the sea-
Come to me, my husband, that I too might die.
The moon tears through the night;
as I watch it intoxicates me.
It resembles an unleashed colt,
and the night voluptuously feminine.
Come to me, my husband, just like the moon...

12. Love Ode

Poem by: Manos Hadjidakis from a collection of his poems.

I first heard this poem read on the radio on the day Manos Hadjidakis died. Realizing the reading was dedicated to him, I was moved by the fact that the author was writing about a moment after his own death, not realizing who the author was. When it was announced that Hadjidakis himself was the poet, the words seemed prophetic. We were all moved that day, at the passing of this great composer who had offered so much to the musical wealth of Greece. I then asked Notis Mavroudis if we could find this poem and set it to music for this album. Much to my surprise, he had already done so years before and is the only composer to have ever been granted permission to set his poetry. The Chorus of ERT contributes to the ethereal ambiance of the song. We respectfully dedicate this rendition to Manos Hadjidakis' memory.

And should you be born one moment, another moment when I shall no longer be,
Do not be afraid, for you will see me:
either as a star, when you walk into the cold night alone;
in the glance of someone passing you,
or in the flame of the candle you hold while traversing the darkness of the forest...
For there in the heavens where the constellations dwell, all Poets gather.
Lovers silently smoke green leaves and chew gold dust as the rivers leap.
And they wait… for the constellations to swoon and faint,
For them to fall into your sleep, becoming a sigh upon the edge of your lips,
Waking you, and enabling you to see from your window - my face;
Illuminated, forming constellations, smiling down upon you
and whispering: good night...

Translations by: Julie Ziavras


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