Anestis Logothetis (1921-1994)
Klagelieder [Laments] for male choir (1966)
Score designing and editing: Yannis Samprovalakis
Foreword: Yannis Samprovalakis
English translation: Helena Grigorea
Graphic design: Antonis Kapiris
The output of Anestis Logothetis (1921-1994) is divided into two periods: the first (1943-1959) consists of works in conventional musical notation, while the second (1959-1994) comprises works in unconventional notation (“graphic” or “polymorphic” as the composer termed it). A basic characteristic of his personal system of notation is an original combination of music and finearts, through which he tried to describe the structure of his works and its evolution in time.
Despite his dedication to his personal system of notation, in 1966, deeply shaken by the news of the tragic death of Calliope Dimitriou, the four-year-old daughter of his close friend and collaborator Socratis Dimitriou, he was spontaneously driven to make an exception. In a profoundly mournful mood, he composed in conventional notation two Laments for the funeral service that was held in Vienna. Logothetis chose two texts from the the Nikolaos G. Politis collection of folk songs Selections from the Songs of the Greek People (unit “Laments”, nos. 178 and 194; “Estia”, Athens 1914) and the work was completed in a single day, on 9 February 1966.
The special quality of this work, the result of profound inspiration, is based upon the combination of: a) Greek folk poetry, b) an expressionistic atonal musical idiom, which, however, displays sporadic tonic centres, at the same time supporting the modal melodic material of each part whether by harmonic or by contrapuntal elaboration, and c) the expressive medium of the four-part male choir, whose popularity had spread to the Greek Orthodox community of Vienna from the early 19th century. The mere coexistence of the above characteristics constitutes an admirable example of a creative combination of three different European traditions within a single work.
The sources for the present edition come from the composer’s personal archive. The original score is not saved, as in all probability it was given to the Dimitriou family. However, the duplicated vocal parts that were used in the first performance of the work have been found, as well as the recording of the first performance, which was conducted by the composer himself and proved an invaluable guide by providing additional information, especially with regard to tempo and its alterations. For practical reasons perhaps, the first performance was given by a four-part mixed choir instead of a male choir, while the second lament was presented as two-part, with the female voices singing the two higher parts. In the manuscript vocal parts, the Greek text is rendered in phonetic transcription according to the rules of pronunciation of the German language. In the present edition, the authentic Greek text has been added. Additionally, as in all the works of Logothetis’ second period, there is no catalogue numbering by the composer.
English translation by Helena Grigorea
O my bright sun, why did you hasten to your west,
Leaving your home to go and shine somewhere else?
Who can I tell my sorrow, the sorrow of my heart?
Shall I tell you, high hills, you ’re high and cannot hear,
Shall I tell you, tall trees, the north wind blows and takes it,
Shall I tell you, low shrubs, the south wind blows and takes it.
The tree-leaves bent down and touched the snow,
Your name is on my lips, my heart within me melts.