*** BEATRICE (LP-album) was my 2nd recorded work. Later, it appeared also in a CD together with my 1st LP-album ONAR.
*** All LYRICS are translated in ENGLISH, right below in this web-page, where you may also see some info on the style and the aesthetics of these compositions.
*** You may listen to ALL TRACKS – just click on titles.
Hariklia Vassiliou (1, 2, 5)
Tina Stefanopoulou (3)
Hristina Mitsani (4)
recorded and remixed
Kostas Kondos (studio Magnanimus)
A work including 5 songs for voice/guitar and 3 romances for guitar/violoncello.
In the 5 songs of “BEATRICE” the forms are freely developed.
Each song is rather a collection (a chain) of “images” with different “moods” and emotions, following the different moods of the emotional scenario of the lyrics.
This rather “impressionistic” style of seeing the song form is a field that interested me very much and in several of my compositions I attempted, already from ONAR, to structure my own aesthetic proposal.
In each image of the songs there is sometimes voice and guitar and other times solo guitar.
So, the GUITAR in “BEATRICE” is BY NO MEANS in the role of a simple accompanying instrument.
Voice and guitar integrate in an amalgam of complex melodic lines .
The sections of solo guitar are autonomous stand-alone short solos on presenting instrumental variations of the themes of the song.
Something similar happens also in the structure of the 3 Romances for violoncello and guitar: they are also collections of different musical “images” (palettes of emotions) creating their own emotional scenario, since there are no lyrics.
“BEATRICE” is one of the two works that together make up a broader work, the “Two Love Cantatas”. The other one, “3000 Years of Being in Love” (for piano, flute, and voice, with lyrics by Stephanos Rikoudis), has not appeared in the discography.
However, both these works making the “Two Love Cantatas”, have been performed at many concerts.
“BEATRICE” is of great importance for me:
it is the core which later produced the most sophisticated of my compositions for acoustic instruments, “The Devil with the Candlestick” (for guitar and voice based on poems by Tassos Leivathitis, 1996), which has also never appeared in the discography.
Though Beatrice is written for voice, guitar and violoncello, all three instruments are never used at once. I have preferred combining them in a duet mode. Each combination corresponds to one of the two album’ s sides.
Both the songs and the romances, as musical forms, are of equal narrative importance, each part supporting in its own way the general idea of this work. I intended to build up rich narrative sound structures, in songs and romances alike. To build up a work whose main ideas and senses would be expressed equally through the meaning of the sung words AND through the sounds of the instruments when they play alone without the human voice.
Thus, EVERY musical moment in all pieces has its own unique importance. Nothing is working as a simple accompaniment. All the time there is musically a continuous interchange of interweaving roles between the instruments and the voice. Every moment is important both musically as well conceptually.
A definitive contribution to these pieces’ final form was made by Spyros Sakkas. He approached them without any preconceptions. With all his sensitivity, experience, talent, and his own distinctive vision. Together we revealed hidden aspects of the songs His interpretation has brought out their essence in the best possible way. For me our association has been an enjoyable and valuable experience.
Now, a few words concerning «Beatrice» and a few personal thoughts which motivated me to write this music.
«Beatrice» is the central figure in a rather extended poetry collection of Hariklia. At the time that I read this collection, I was thinking about the «Other» as a main and central point in every human life.
Expressing this mood, I was already sketching the work «3000 Years of Being in Love» (which later, along with the yet unwritten «Beatrice», formed my «Two Love Cantatas»).
I anyway love Hariklia’ s poems and I thought that the figure of «Beatrice» was offering me a very interesting point of view about the concept of the «Other», a point of view which was complementary to the one in «3000 Years of Being in Love». For several reasons I stopped sketching this work and I immediately started building «Beatrice» (the 5 songs and the 3 romances).
Undoubtedly Hariklia developed Beatrice in her own way and in directions that she needed to follow as a poet. Inspired by her poetry and having her permission, I directed Beatrice in my own ways, according to the whole problematic around the «Other».
So, in this work, I see the idealised «Other» as an unapproachable, mythical image, as depicted so often in literature, especially the romantic one (whereas in «3000 Years of being in love» the point of sketching the «Other» is 100% different and much more human).
Such an idealised figure I believe that exists deeply inside every human soul. Merging with it is being in love (eros), is getting diffused into the «Other», is finally a total and absolute breaking of the borders of self – consciousness.
Of course, while getting adults, sooner or later, we all have to deal with this figure. To decide if we ‘ll go on looking for this imaginary but perfect confluence or if we ‘ll try to live in reality.
Of course we can as well attempt to combine both tendencies.
But this «third» pathway is already the beginning of another subject, so, let’ s return to «Beatrice», as the idealised «Other» in every human soul.
Let’ s see this figure, motive for any kind of desires and passions for us, as a silent, mysterious goddess, barricaded behind its opacity. A perfect canvas on which we embroider our emotions in all their excess. And now, what if this chilly angel existing within us, came to life as a simple human being acquiring a name – «Beatrice» for instance?
Then we ‘d be faced with a puppet brought to life. A living doll. A human being with flesh and bones, living and dreaming just like us. Singing, desiring, yearning, aching, whispering.
My music makes no attempt to describe or explain this process of metamorphosis. It takes it for granted and simply presents «snapshots» of this now vulnerable goddess enduring her mortality in our cruel world.
In the songs 2 – 5 we can envision Beatrice, the incarnated goddess, as a simple woman experiencing the feeling of being in-love, talking to us as if we were one person, the person with whom she is in love. In the prelude and the 6th song we answer to her.
The three romances are just pieces inspired by all these ideas, referring to Beatrice’s own emotions.
The most important point for this fictitious figure, to whom Hariklia instilled human qualities, is that, for her, it is US who became Beatrice’s idealised «Other»…
Being human, she yearns for union with us.
She longs to talk with us, borrowing verses, phrases, songs. Borrowing all the words that we used when we were in love motivated by her onetime divine existence in our souls.
But precisely because she identifies herself just as human ignoring her idealised dimensions in our souls, precisely because she is now like us, she can’t possibly attain union with us, with our world. S
he does not know that, for us, her raison d’ etre is precisely to be distant and indefinable and that in a very cruel sense she is «useless» as human, «useless» as a definable and concrete creature of this world.
And in the end she stands «before» us (not «with» us), as «idea and naked moment», bewildered by the heavy role of an idealised figure that we have allotted her without even asking, as lonely as she was before we allowed her to stand before us in her human form.
THE LEAFLET 02
Just for the history, I note that an extra leaflet was accompanying the LP album of «BEATRICE». It occurred in a rather peculiar way.
When this album was released there were some mistakes in the final production, especially in the album’s cover.
It seems that the graphic arts studios in which the production was practically realized were responsible for these mistakes which made me very unhappy.
If we consider that I had already reprinted the cover 2 times because of bad results in the color scales, you ‘ll probably understand why, at the very last moment, I included in each released album photocopies of a leaflet with the following text:
“…I believe that any LP album does not only consist of the sound that comes out of our loudspeakers. I always believed that it represents a sort of «item». Each one series of a published album is in a sense unique as it carries a very special identity. It declares a «presence», a «statement», depending primarily on such considerations as «why», «how», «by whom» it was published and produced.
The physical embodiment and the identity of this presence is made up of many things at once: vinyl, cardboard, an image, a color, lettering, the label, an inset, a smell, an overlooked misprint, a bold doodle, a stubborn scratch. Nobody can have absolute control over all these things, and normally a few acceptable divergences from the awaited result are only to be expected.
In the case of ‘BEATRICE’, however, the «acceptable» limit has been exceeded at certain points, at least in my view. On the label, for instance, «vocals: Spyros Sakkas» has arbitrarily become «song: Spiros Sakas»; all references to the guitarist Fotis Baxes and the violoncellist Damianos Kailoglou has been omitted; specific mention of the pieces on the second side as «3 romances» is made, but not for the pieces of the first side as «5 songs», and so on.
There are no one or two persons to blame for all this, nor for other hidden problems that finally turned this production to be a nightmare for me. The reason lies in the fact that ‘BEATRICE’ unfortunately (and for reasons unconnected with my own preferences) came out in December (Christmas period for Greece), a time of year when the fever to manufacture all kinds of products in time for the seasonal consumer mania borders on the frenetic.
Swept aside in this headlong rush, ‘BEATRICE’ had to take patiently her turn to be published, being in any case by nature and decision stranger to such psychotic consumer disease.
Consequently, since she took on physical form under such circumstances as these, she could not escape incurring some disabilities, which, though minor for somebody else, still wound me deeply.
So, even if I am not at all a perfectionist, I have hurriedly tapped out these brief comments, since it is too late, two days before the album’s publication, to make further changes. They are written for everybody who still cares about what «BEATRICE» and «beings» such as she must undergo, when they acquire physical shape. Ending this note my main hope is that it may at least enable this ‘Beatrice’ feel less forgotten…”
“… I have always liked accompanying notes that don’t necessarily analyse, but rather add something to the confessional aspect that is a feature of every creative work. Yet, some people say that a work of art «speaks» for itself, and that there is no need for more information in notes. Sometimes it may be like that but most of the times, for me, it isn’t.
There may have been a time when emotions, concepts and feelings were efficiently transmitted between people and silence had many wondrous roles to play.
These days in which we live, however, are in my view a time rich in misunderstanding. In a world whose values come and go at the speed of light,
I frequently find myself living in a rather fragmented way, as if they were mere bytes of information, too neutral to shape my memory or even my history.
In such conditions communication is not easy (more often there is even nothing to be communicated…).
In periods like this, in order to keep linked the things in my life with a thread of continuity that respects their individual content, I have to reinforce my individual relationship with whatever is of this world (I mean persons, objects, environments, my own process of experiencing).
Being conscious of each one of them I can link them together as I like and I can choose their importance and meaning for me.
Thus, as a listener, I usually like some notes on a music that I am interested in listening to. I think that such notes make the work more «personal».
I do not need any analysis or explanation of the music and I am willing to be affected by anything that pleases me at levels above and beyond the conscious intellect.
What I look for through a note is this ‘personal’ aspect of the individual who created the music. Something like a grace-note, a comment, or whatever he/she may want to chat about with everyday words, apart from the main musical work.
That is the reason why, as a composer, I am always happy to write accompanying notes (even at length, when possible).
After all, a work is in danger these days where «real» and «fake» is merely a question of point of view and subjective decision. It may never find its audience. It may be violated by those waiting with «labels» and all sort of «opinions». It may be dressed any kind of clothes.
Whereupon, tired and defenceless, it may lose its identity under the weight of its reflections.
So, doesn’t it deserve something to see it off on its long, hard journey?… something not either ‘useful’ or ‘practical’ – a kind of Godspeed, so to speak?…»