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Yannis Parios
O Erotikos Theodorakis – Yannis Parios Live Sto Likavito

Best of 2001

By Srajan Ebaen
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Yannis Parios "O Erotikos Theodorakis – Yannis Parios Live Sto Likavito"

Compact Disc Compact Disc: Minos-EMI 7243 5 36925 2 0 Compact Disc


Genre: popular Greek songs in an epic live performance

  What do you get when you cross a porcupine with barbed wire? Only half a porcupine, I’m sad to inform you However, the recipe for O Erotikos Theodorakis crosses Greece’s most famous songwriter, Mikis Theodorakis -- plus the most famous of his innumerable songs -- with one of its most beloved singers, Yannis Parios. The results transcend mere arithmetic. What’s more, they are all around -- and especially in a fundamental heart space -- way healthier than our somewhat sick opener.

A generous live double album with 15 tracks each, taken from a recent concert October 3, 2001, Erotikos is a truly epic production that rides on the powerful swells of a huge and ecstatic crowd of devotees that often burst into song, accompanying hand claps or applause when their hearts are torn asunder by nationalist fervor or the plain pressure of thick emotionalism that makes no excuses for occasionally veering into sentimentalism.

Like Giorgos Dalaras, Yannis Parios holds court at the top-most peak of Greece’s pantheon of popular singer gods. A very powerful tenor with immaculate control over a broadly stretched range of microdynamics, Parios is a highly gifted romantic singer who paints with a rich palette of tonal colors, from the merest hush and whisper to José Carreras-like top-of-the-lungs excesses and a multitude of elastic, finely calibrated inflections in between. But always there remains a certain majesty, a distinct stately splendor of tone that he embodies vocally. It is said that just about every household in Greece owns his two albums “Ta Nissiotika -From the Islands”, selections of traditional songs rendered in their age-old ensemble settings. His popularity and widespread appeal are such that when you ask the – very well stocked -- folks at Greek Music USA to recommend another artist in “the style of” Yannis Parios, they remain strangely quiet and hesitant. Apparently Parios rules in such a league by himself that comparisons come only haltingly, if any at all.

With the orchestra of Mikis Theodorakis moving at full clip and with swollen sails if you will, a crowd knowing most the tunes by heart, an inspired backup chorus adding further vocal density, top instrumental soloists on bouzouki and guitar highlighted in front of the orchestra; with many songs the kind of festive dances the Greeks are known for, others nearly national anthems, this album is a crash course in popular Hellenic culture. Most of all, it is an open invitation to the very heart of a people during a landmark performance. Culling from the vast repertoire of Theodorakis, there’s not only no shortage of beloved melodies but in fact really no dud in sight, or, as it were, sound. Certain listeners – reacting similar to how I remember my dad looking embarrassedly sideways during close up movie kissing scenes – might be uncomfortable by the unapologetic, nearly flamboyant key in which this music celebrates – or wallows in, if you disapprove -- its heartfelt temperament. It’s in no way cheap, or tear jerky manipulative. It’s simply sheer beauty compounded to the nth degree by one song after another, and the rising tide of an energetic live event that captivated thousands who in turn gave back to the performers and inspired them to reach yet higher heights.

What tops off this year-end recommendation is the excellent recording quality that captured the cavernous environs of the original performance in wide dynamic range and, bar the very occasional microphone overload when Parios gets too close and too intense, renders his forceful vocals in breathtakingly realism. Are you enjoying a crisp and cold winter while you’re scanning these lines? Pour yourself a nice glass of aged port or sherry, light a fire, cue up this recording and watch your worries slip away, soon to be replaced by happy and thankful tears that you’re alive. Erotikos is my enthusiastic nomination for top male vocal album of 2001.




















































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