Theodorakis’ Songs Singers

Many, mostly Greek, song singers have interpreted Mikis Theodorakis’ songs. Probably all of them. To name them all would make the list too long. Therefore some of them: remarkable, unique, excellent, highly talented interpreters and what makes me compare them with each other.

This is part two of a serial of posts about Arja Saijonmaa. In part three is even more unveiled, and a final post scriptum.

  1. Arja Saijonmaa’s influencer: Mikis Theodorakis
  2. Theodorakis’ Songs Singers
  3. Arja Saijonmaa, part three

 

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Maria Farantouri and Petros Pandis

The list must start with Maria Farantouri, next to Petros Pandis, on the same place. This duo has been so often been singing together in a concert that the unity between them, and Mikis Theodorakis, has become a formula for success and moving, unforgettable  interpretations of Mikis’ love songs, songs of resistance, oratorio and cantatas. Petros Pandis was always present in concerts with the Canto General, together with Maria Farantouri, and sometimes with Arja Saijonmaa instead of Maria Farantouri.

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Arja Saijonmaa’s dress code

Petros Pandis’ voice fits better with Maria’s voice, and personality, than with Arja Saijonmaa‘s voice, and personality, with who he has also performed concerts. Though Arja Saijonmaa is a great singer and interpreter, the dominance of her personality, and ego, overrules the music, which makes herself too much visible. The song becomes too much intertwined with her personal self, not with the text as an abstract art piece. Her way of clothing for a concert is part of this willing to be dominant, it underlines the dominance, lack of sense for the right dress-code and hair-style, preferring styles that express her sexual femininity, trying to hide it at the same time, but not succeeding in it. During concerts like for instance the Canto General she should not wear a  g l i t t e r i n g screaming white outfit. Canto General is about suppressed people, by the glamorous rich, and no, a glamorous dress and hair style with lots of hair spray and make-up does not fit at all in such a concert, not in any performance with songs of resistance and liberty, freedom.

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Maria Farantouri’s dress code and integrity

Female liberty is what Maria Farantouri shows in both clothing style and natural hair style, not even or hardly using any make-up. Maria Farantouri, Petros Pandis and Mikis Theodorakis are wearing always that what fits with the content of  the song texts and each other: modest. Maria Farantouri shows to understand this very important aspect. She is there for her art of expressing, not more, not less. Her well chosen dresses, concerning style and colour, material, always fitting within the occasion, the concert and the concert hall, or stage, make her performances even more intense and powerful, while one hardly notices what she wears. Maria Farantouri’s perfect dress-code is a proof of her integrity. Arja Saijonmaa does not have that integrity.

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Some words of understanding for Arja Saijonmaa

Within her life-story, the way she had to deal with an impossible and therefore platonic love for Mikis Theodorakis, I understand her at the same time. It is, I guess, for her the only way to show Mikis Theodorakis what she feels for him. I cannot find any other reason. It fits in the psychological part of her life-story. The why. Well, that’s why then, probably, or certainly. Fact stays that it, all what is mentioned and can be read as criticism, does not fit in the whole of all what is happening, where the songs are meant for, and therefore it is fair criticism. They are not meant to create a meeting-place for both of them, but the songs seem to be used for it. By both Arja Saijonmaa and Mikis Theodorakis. (Read also: Conclusion, in the former post.)

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Back to Maria again

Maria’s art of singing and expressing is of an incomparable unreachable high and in all ways rich and wide, deep quality. That she adjusts her way of dressing with the content and the place of the concert underlines that high quality. As told: at the same time she dresses herself very stylish, elegant, and beautifully feminine.

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Back to Arja Saijonmaa, why was she there all the time?

The reason why sometimes has been chosen for Arja Saijonmaa could be the wish of Mikis Theodorakis himself, but after all the reflections in this post, there is not any doubt. As I wrote in my former post: Arja Saijonmaa and Mikis Theodorakis radiate a special chemistry when they are together. Arja Saijonmaa cannot hide that, does not want it, she exposes it with her right to do so, it belongs to her freedom. It is therefore not a question if she maybe is in love with Mikis Theodorakis. She is. Everybody in the same situation as she has been in her entire life would have tried also to find and take all possibilities to express the feelings and longings of the heart and soul. Mikis Theodorakis tries to hide what he feels, but for me he fails in it, because I can see, sense, a special energy when Arja is near. Where big smiles or deep emotions cover Arja’s face, the muscles in Mikis’ face stay undisturbed, but behind that mask something else is going on. It is visible that it makes him a much more mild and calm Mikis Theodorakis.

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Witnessing the chemistry

Petros Pandis must have felt this chemistry between the two very often, and distanced himself from it, he stayed stoical, as if he did not even want to see it, did not want to witness it. At least here, in this video, at 3:20.

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Solo, Duo, Trio or Quartet? 

Arja Saijonmaa could never find the right key for the door to participate in the group Farantouri-Pandis-Theodorakis. After having watched and really observed the performers in many many videos, I am obliged to share what I observed. She was only physically part of this unique group of musicians, not spiritually, not emotionally, not mentally, for the most of the time she was only creating a duo with Theodorakis, only with him she felt connected, for the others she was a kind of an outcast, a stranger, and she herself is due to it. Though it must have been painful for Arja Saijonmaa to notice this not being able to connect with the group (or was she so much focused on Theodorakis that she not even had the wish to be connected with the other two also?) , I understand the choice Petros Pandis made and showed, without words, but with body language. He distanced himself from her. I have not seen ever a connection between Maria Farantouri and Arja Saijonmaa either. So, there is just one answer on the question of this paragraph: a duo, but mostly Arja Saijonmaa is a soloist, even in a group.

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The puzzle is ready

Of course I realise that even when observing thousands of details, it is possible to make the wrong conclusion, but I try to find out what happens with me when I watch and listen to a concert in which Arja Saijonmaa is present. I have learned in life to take my observations serious, and to analyse them. So, also here: there was always something strange, but I never could put the finger on it. When I started reading about Arja Saijonmaa for a post about her, then all parts of the puzzle fell on their place. I have written down this puzzle here, in this post. For me it is clear. It is an interesting one, anyhow.

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The best of all after all

My personal musical choice is Maria Farantouri, for all Theodorakis’ songs. Not Arja Saijonmaa, when I compare both with each other when singing Theodorakis’ music. Arja Saijonmaa was for me at her best in the very first performance, in Finland. She was still pure: not any glitter or glamour, no make up, a natural hair style. She was not overwhelmed already by Theodorakis, neither impressed or affected. She was focused on her song only. But when her song was finished Theodorakis joined her on the stage and from that moment Arja Saijonmaa became another person: Theodorakis took over her psychological authenticity. I have not seen the same personality anymore in not any video that has been published after.

For Mikis Theodorakis‘s songs and oratoria Maria’s voice is the most perfect of all: her voice has always the right colour, tuning, volume, timbre, intention, expression, interpretation, warmth, deepest empathy, because I have the idea that she is the only female singer who can (with all her talents to express the melody and lyrics) really go into the deepest depths, there where the Theodorakis songs are written. Not Arja. Maybe she goes so deep, but I doubt it because I do not hear it. Petros Pandis  can reach, as the only one, into those deepest depths of the Canto General.

Other great performers are Christina Cünne, Liesbeth List, Yorgos Dalaras, Mario Frangoulis, Vasilis LekkasVicky MoscholiouVicky Leandros, Yannis Parios, Grigoris Bithikotsis, Dimitra Galani, Nena Venetsanou, Markella Hatziano, Agnes Baltsa, Pieter Hendriks, and so many more. Not to forget Mikis Theodorakis himself.

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Updated: 10 February 2018

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About "The Music of Mikis Theodorakis"

The blog "The Music of Mikis Theodorakis" started in 2010. The not-for-profit activities of the initiator were and are to collect, create and publish information about the MUSIC of the Greek composer Mikis Theodorakis via YouTube, Google+, Twitter, and this blog. Sources for this information are utterly strictly related with Mikis Theodorakis' Music only. The icon is a bouzouki. It is Greece's national symbol for freedom. During the Regime of the Colonels (Military Junta, 1967-1974) the bouzouki was forbidden. Mikis Theodorakis used this authentic Greek instrument in almost all his compositions, and Greeks were listening to Theodorakis's music in the underground scene, during the Military Junta time.
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5 Responses to Theodorakis’ Songs Singers

  1. Very insightful notes on clothing. I felt something was off in Arja’s look during that performance of Canto General but couldn’t quite put my finger on it but you articulated it: it’s too glamourous, too “rich”, too “80s” (while both her outfit during the very first performance and Maria’s 70s and 70s-style dresses fit Theodorakis music perfectly, I guess there is a whole discussion about the ideas dominant in these decades to be had there). I don’t agree, though, that you hardly can notice what Maria wears, I’m a big fan of her style (and 70s style in general) and I do notice; her clothing is memorable and elegant, just not flashy.

    Pandis is not my favourite male interpreter of Theodorakis, I’d say this place goes to Vasilis Papakonstantinou. It seems Theodorakis has, or at least used to have, this weird habit of choosing singers with a voice similar to his own, and while it worked with Vasilis, whose voice shares his strengths but not the weaknesses, Pandis has the voice that is just way too similar to the one of Theodorakis, who is not a very good singer in my opinion.

    I personally like Saionmaa’s performance, she’s very artistic and visibly enjoys what she’s doing. That said, her performance definitely fits the style of Theodorakis less than Maria’s. And yeah, it’s too much focused on Theodorakis the man – I’ve seen that concert where it’s just them two, and she almost didn’t look at the audience, just at him.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for your comment, and indeed, your analyse of Theodorakis’ choice concerning his preferred singers: it seems to be so. But at the same time I understand his choice for these voices, they fit with the text so much better than a more clear voice. Maria Farantouri’s voice is more clear than Arja Saijonmaa’s voice but he preferred Maria’s voice, unless he had planned a concert in Scandinavia.

      Indeed, such a great singer: Vasilis Papakonstatinou!! He has exactly that what is the middle between rough, in Petros Pandis case almost or indeed dissonant sounding voice, as his own voice is often dissonant sounding, not Mario Frangoulis alike at all. Vasilis Lekkas can also sound a bit dissonant.

      About Maria’s dress code: Did you really read the whole post? I wrote about Maria’s way of dressing, and I mentioned really all what you name. Added also that her choice for clothing is more fitting with everything, and therefore not disturbing, but harmonious.
      Therefore a kind of invisible, because it is harmonious, while one notices something, but not knowing what, at the same time it is making you feel good when watching her.
      You have, by the way, an excellent way of writing, an excellent choice of words, flowing out of an inner richness of sensing. Do you have a blog?

      Like

      • No, I don’t really have a blog. There are not many places to discuss Theodorakis in the Internet if you don’t speak Greek, let alone have a deep discussion. I would love to do something to make Theodorakis more popular, but it seems that outside of Balkans, he’s a thing of the past that was shortly popular in the days of the dictatorship. I’m learning Greek, to make literal translations of his songs to Russian and maybe English in the future and familiarize foreign audiences with him. He used works of great poets as lyrics and Russians appreciate songs with highly poetic texts very much, and the music is relatively familiar, too. I don’t know how to popularize him in the English-speaking countries though, he’s a communist and has a relatively anti-Western position it seems, maybe it was more acceptable in the 60s-70s but now they might find him unappealing.

        I just think it’s hard to consider 70s clothing invisible, because they look so unusual to people of today. :) They even often get ridiculed, especially the male clothing, but I do like this fashion better than the modern one.

        Like

        • I find several videos with concerts in for instance Belgium, Austria, Germany, even very soon, in May, where he even will be present: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DNQzehHuyao
          Also in Netherlands he has fans, there is even a Dutch website: https://www.creatiefwebmaatwerk.nl/theodorakis/
          His music is mostly expressing resistance, anger, fury, or love. That is not per definition related with communism, that belongs to being human.
          Russia was a communist country. Today it is a capitalist country, a kind of a totalitarianism rules there. I love the national hymn though, Lenin’s words. The music is really moving me.

          Anyhow: Theodorakis’ not being popular (not in the picture) is because the world does not know him, and due to it is also his abominable website. As soon the name Mikis Theodorakis is in the world news, like very recent, about Macedonia, my blog gets loads of views, from everywhere in the world. WordPress shows where the views are coming from. I could also see that there was suddenly interest from Russia, and then your comments appeared…. :)
          I mean: if people would find a satisfying website, and find answers there in the right way, there could be so much more than there is now! I am sure a lot of people do not know that Theodorakis composed more music than “Zorba”.

          I have the same goal as you: bringing his music into the world. I opened an Instagram account for his music some days ago: https://www.instagram.com/theodorakismusic/
          I do not have a Facebook page, but it is possible to upload photos there with Gramblr.
          There is a lot of work to be done, so: your plans are great!
          Wonderful!

          Like

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