New Internationalist

The Weeping Meadow

September 2004

Eleni Karaindrou introduces her theme within the first bars of The Weeping Meadow. We hear it on an accordion; it’s taken up by a string ensemble, a French horn; later a Constantinople lyra picks up the thread: if you heard this as the first few steps of a journey, you’d be right. A suite of chamber music recorded for Theo Angelopoulos’ recent feature film, The Weeping Meadow has a huge historical sweep as its subject: the migrations from Odessa and Smyrna following the end of the First World War. Karaindrou wisely avoids the bombast with which other composers might approach so dramatic (and tragic) a history. The violence of the Greek expulsions from Smyrna is, for many, still an unhealed scar; unsurprisingly, few other composers (Diamanda Galas is a notable exception) have ventured into such territory.

For all its lyricism, Karaindrou’s score is, she says, ‘made up of fragments of memory’ and you hear this in the way her simple motif dances across registers and instruments, even the chorus sung by the Hellenic Vocal Ensemble. It is as if many voices speak the same words. This is vividly realized music; it describes things – loss, terrible destruction and survival – that supersede a history that cannot be construed only as ‘Greek’. In its greatest subtleties, Karaindrou’s cadences are of a regional music that knows no national boundaries. Perhaps that’s what makes The Weeping Meadow so moving: the knowledge that in violating one’s neighbour, one is also killing something deep within oneself.

Louise Gray

Front cover of New Internationalist magazine, issue 371 This column was published in the September 2004 issue of New Internationalist. To read more, buy this issue or subscribe.

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The Weeping Meadow Fact File
Product information by Eleni Karaindrou
Publisher ECM
Product number 981 3327 CD
Star rating4
Product link

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This article was originally published in issue 371

New Internationalist Magazine issue 371
Issue 371

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