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Savina Yannatou & Primavera en Salonico
Virgin Maries of the World
Lyra (

cd cover Savina Yannatou: a Greek woman who has turned into the archetypal Global Woman; who has managed to equalize her enormous analytical musicianship with a deep spiritual understanding of music; a performer whose records although sounding far from perfect at times, manage to turn even their defects into "character." If you are looking for absolutely perfect renditions of traditional music, you will be disillusioned, because she believes in creating the right sort of music rather than note-by-note perfection. Yannatou is an enchanting performer who will take you on a trip through pain, love, revolution, childhood and who will also produce records of outstanding quality and attention to detail, engineered to a level rare in Greece.

You can pile stereotype after stereotype upon her and she'll just respond with a shrug and carry on, doing what she thinks she ought to be doing. This is the final part of an unofficial trilogy that began with the recording titled Primavera en Salonico, then Mediterranea and ended with this, "The Holy Women of the World" as the Greek title might best be translated.

This record came out in spring 1999, a little before Easter, the period of the year that is considered the holiest in the liturgy of the Orthodox Church. It is also a period that combines the rebirth of Nature with the pain of the Mother of the Human-God as she watches her Child die and then be reborn. It is not by luck that this is a period full of femininity, in Nature and in humans. It is not by luck either that the Mediterranean people have always paid tribute to this process, from the ancient Goddesses mourning lost loved ones to the Christian Mother-of-All.

This must then be the reason for this record being so heartwarming and downright sexy, something quite strange for a record of laments. This is probably due to discovering the underlying quality of the songs it presents.

It would be a great injustice to isolate songs from this recording for particular praise: all of them have their own role to perform and a lot of thought has been put into their choice and programming.

Primavera en Salonico, her backing band for the trilogy, is quite marvelous, especially on the Eastern songs. It is a great fortune that her voice has found such able collaborators to provide it with the necessary counterpoints. The poignant and incisive notes by Lambros Liavas (probably the best ethnomusicologist in Greece today) will also allow anyone who acquires this CD to understand what Spring and the Virgin Mary mean to the people (and especially the women) of Greece and those who have come to an artistic and social interrelation with them. The booklet is bilingual (in Greek and English) and in one of the best translations that I've seen. - Nondas Kitsos

MP3 samples and CD available at cdRoots

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