LIVE IN GREECE: From Constantinople to California – Part Two

As we approach the release of LIVE IN GREECE: From Constantinople to California, we’ll be sharing some excerpts from the liner notes to give you a bit of background into the programming of this recording.

I – Greeks and Latins in the Eastern Mediterranean

The Crusades transformed the Eastern Mediterranean politically into a patchwork of remnants of the once mighty East Roman (Byzantine) Empire, Western colonies, and Islamic (both Arab and Turkish) states. By the end of the fifteenth century, the Ottomans had eliminated the Byzantine Empire and greatly reduced the number of Western outposts in the Eastern Mediterranean. The most prominent and prosperous of those that remained was Crete, which developed a flourishing Renaissance culture under Venetian rule. In the years before the Ottoman conquest of 1669, Cretan church musicians employing the Byzantine rite did much to broaden and enrich the Constantinopolitan traditions they had inherited from the mid-fifteenth-century imperial court musicians Manuel Chrysaphes and Manuel Gazes, the former of whom came to the island as a refugee after 1453.

In addition to being skilled composers in the florid kalophonic (‘beautiful sounding’) style of chant pioneered by St John Koukouzeles and Xenos Korones, Chrysaphes and Gazes were evidently intrigued by the simple, usually improvised, form of polyphony practised by their Western colleagues cantus planus binatim (‘plainchant twice’). Gazes went so far as to compose several two-part works notated in parallel lines of Byzantine musical signs (neumes). Having previously recorded Gazes’ polyphonic Compline Hymn ‘The bodiless nature’, Cappella Romana sings here his prologue to the Passion hymn ‘Already the Pen’. Taken from the Orthros of Great and Holy Friday, his prologue appears in two manuscripts. One is well known to scholars for its polyphonic settings by Gazes and others: Athens 2041, a mid-fifteenth-century service anthology (Akolouthiai) that, according to Gregorios Stathis, may have been written in Patras, a city that passed between Greek and Latin rule. The other source is Duke University (Kenneth Willis Clark) 45, an unusal sticherarion copied by Gazes’ Cretan pupil Angelos Gregoriou and recently brought to light by Emmanouil Giannopoulos. Among its music for Holy Week, the Duke manuscript contains not only standard Byzantine hymns (stichera) appointed to be sung between the verses (stichoi) of the fixed psalms of Vespers and Orthros (such as the full version of ‘Already the Pen’ on this recording appended to the prologue by Gazes), but also the vernacular lament placed at the beginning of this disc. Written in fifteen-syllable verse, this demotic song presents the Virgin Mary lamenting the crucifixion of her Son in words often echoing those of Byzantine liturgical texts.

Complex forms of Western polyphonic music were, as Nikolaos Panagiotakes has shown, performed in the Roman Catholic churches frequented by the ruling class of Venetian Crete. Franghiskos Leontaritis (ca. 1518–ca. 1572), the son of a Greek mother and an Italian father, was one of a small number of Cretans known to have immersed themselves fully in the musical culture of the Latin Church. Ordained a Roman Catholic priest on the island, he worked as an organist for some years at the cathedral of St Titus in Heraklion. In 1544 Leontaritis relocated to Venice in order to sing in its ducal basilica of San Marco under Adrian Willaert, later on making his way to Munich to work in the Bavarian chapel under Orlande de Lassus. Leontaritis composed a significant body of polyphonic sacred and secular works, including the five-voice motet Ad dominum cum tribularer, a setting of Psalm 119.

Musical manuscripts and literary sources provide incomplete data about the nature and extent of polyphonic singing cultivated by Renaissance Crete’s Orthodox cantors. Some elements are probably preserved in the received traditions of performing chant with improvised additional parts in the former Venetian colonies of Corfu, Cephalonia and Zakynthos, islands which absorbed refugees from the Ottoman conquest of Candia and remained under Western rule until 1864. Others may perhaps be discerned in the manuscript Jerusalem Greek Patriarchate 578, an anthology of music by the enigmatic post-Byzantine composer Parthenios Sgoutas (17th c.?) that contains 11 folios of simple four-part sacred polyphony in Byzantine notation. Discovered by Manolis Chatzegiakoumes and first studied by Markos Dragoumis, these settings feature unusual part-writing with many parallelisms that appear to represent stylisations of techniques of spontaneous harmonisation. These features may be heard in the selections from Jerusalem 578 sung on the present disc, which consist of settings for the Divine Liturgy of St John Chrysostom: the conclusion to the Nicene Creed (not normally sung in Greek practice, but set by Gazes and several of his successors), choral responses for the Eucharistic Prayer, and the pre-communion acclamation ‘One is Holy’. Interestingly, the responses and the acclamation are cast largely as recitatives, an approach to their musical setting that (without polyphonic embellishment) is also the received tradition of the patriarchal chapel in Constantinople.

— Alexander Lingas

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LIVE IN GREECE: From Constantinople to California – Part One

As we approach the release of LIVE IN GREECE: From Constantinople to California, we’ll be sharing some excerpts from the liner notes to give you a bit of background into the programming of this recording.

From Constantinople to California:

Cappella Romana was founded on the Pacific Coast of the USA in 1991 to explore, through music, the spiritual inheritance of the Byzantine oikoumene. The ensemble has since taken a broad view of Christian Romiosyni/Romanitas, exploring repertories from medieval Byzantine and Old Roman chant to modern vocal works by composers representing a variety of Orthodox linguistic and cultural traditions. During its twentieth-anniversary year the ensemble made its first journey to Greece at the invitation of the International Festival of Sacred Music of Patmos. There it offered outside the Cave of the Apocalypse a concert of sacred music born from encounters between Greek musicians and the so-called ‘Latin West’. Ranging over six centuries and locations from Constantinople to California, this program was chosen to reflect the chronological and geographic reach of both the Byzantine tradition and Cappella Romana. Together with a few additional works, this music was then sung in concerts on the island of Paros, where it was recorded for the present disc.

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2012-2013 Season: From Constantinople to California

The Cappella Romana 2012-2013 Season comes full circle in June 2013 with the “From Constantinople to California” concert series! Not only will the season kick off with the release of the LIVE IN GREECE recording featuring the From Constantinople to California program, it will also end with performances of the program both in Portland and Seattle!

Join Cappella Romana on a 1,000-year journey from Constantinople to California. Ancient Byzantine chants mark the point of departure for musical encounters with Crusaders and Venetians. East meets West again at St. Sophia Cathedral in Los Angeles, where Frank Desby founded a tradition, continued by his Californian peers, of Greek-American choral music. The tour comes full circle with the mystical ecstasy of Radiant Cloud, a sonic icon of the Transfiguration by Athenian composer Michael Adamis.

In September 2011 Cappella Romana toured Greece for the first time, performing this program at the international Sacred Music Festival of Patmos (Φεστιβάλ Φρησκευτικής Μουσικής Πάτμου). On the island of Paros, Cappella Romana performed at the 6th century Church of 100 Doors and in the village church of Áspro Chorió (on the front of this brochure), where the ensemble also recorded a new disc, Cappella Romana: LIVE IN GREECE.

Read the program notes from this performance here:

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Cappella Romana: LIVE IN GREECE is less than three weeks from its release! And now you can pre-order it on Amazon.com (click the image below to pre-order today)!

LIVE IN GREECE Preview

We’ve got a full preview of a track from our upcoming LIVE IN GREECE recording for you today. Take a listen to Frank Desby’s Apolytikion of the Holy Cross via SoundCloud:

LIVE IN GREECE Track 7: Apolytikion of the Holy Cross

Frank Desby (1922–92) provided much of the impetus in the mid-twentieth century for the rise of the ‘West Coast School’ of Greek Orthodox choral music. For decades he served as director of music at St Sophia Cathedral in Los Angeles, also working tirelessly throughout the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America as conductor, composer and educator. Having gained postgraduate degrees at the University of Southern California for theses on medieval and post-Byzantine chant, Desby combined ideas gained from modern chant scholarship with his knowledge of the history of Western and Russian choral music to reshape Greek American liturgical singing according to contemporary academic standards. This led Desby during the 1950s to create harmonisations inspired by Renaissance prototypes and to adapt Byzantine chant to the modern style of performing Gregorian chant invented at the end of the nineteenth century by the monks of the French abbey of Solesmes. The ways that these approaches differed from the received traditions of Byzantine chanting may be heard by contrasting the performances on this disc of the traditional melody for the Apolytikion of the Holy Cross (sung from an 1882 publication by Stephanos Lampadarios, a cantor at the Ecumenical Patriarchate in Constantinople) with Desby’s staff-notation transcription and choral setting of the same hymn.

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LIVE IN GREECE: From Constantinople to California

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In September 2011 Cappella Romana toured Greece for the first time, performing this program at the international Sacred Music Festival of Patmos (Φεστιβάλ Φρησκευτικής Μουσικής Πάτμου), and on the island of Paros at the 6th-century Church of 100 Doors and in the village church ofÁspro Chorió, where this disc was recorded.

Booklet notes in English and Greek
Με σχόλια στα ελληνικά και αγγλικά

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Description in English and in Greek:

Beginning this 1000-year journey from Constantinople to California, ancient Byzantine chants mark the point of departure for musical encounters with Crusaders and Venetians, including Greek and Latin polyphony from Renaissance Crete. East meets West again at St. Sophia Cathedral in Los Angeles, where Frank Desby founded a tradition, continued by his Californian peers, of Greek-American choral music. The tour comes full circle with the mystical ecstasy of Radiant Cloud, a sonic icon of the Transfiguration by Athenian composer Michael Adamis.

«Music of purity and radiance in perfect realisations»
«Αγνή και ακτινοβολούσα μουσική σε τέλεια ερμηνεία»
GRAMOPHONE

Αρχαίοι Βυζαντινοί ύμνοι ξεκινούν το χιλιόχρονο ταξίδι από την Κωνσταντινούπολη στην Καλιφόρνια, ακολουθούμενο από μουσικές συναντήσεις Σταυροφόρων και Ενετών, συμπεριλαμβάνοντας Ελληνική και Λατινική πολυφωνία από την Αναγεννησιακή Κρήτη. Η ανατολή συναντάει ξανά τη Δύση στον Καθεδρικό Ναό της του Θεού Αγίας Σοφίας στο Los Angeles, όπου ο Frank Desby (Φώτιος Δεσποτόπουλος) ίδρυσε μια Ελληνοαμερικανική χορωδιακή μουσική παράδοση με τους Καλιφορνέζους συναδέλφους του. Ο κύκλος κλείνει με τη μυσταγωγική έκσταση της «Νεφέλης Φωτεινής», μια ηχητική εικόνα της Μεταμορφώσεως από τον Αθηναίο συνθέτη Μιχάλη Αδάμη.

TRACK LIST

The Byzantine Inheritance — Ἡ Βυζαντινὴ Κληρονομία

1 «Standing by the Cross» / «Παρισταμένη τῷ σταυρῷ»
Angelos Gregoriou / Ἄγγελος Γρηγορίου (15th c./15 αι.)

2 Sticheron «Already the pen» / Στιχηρὸν «Ἤδη βάπτεται κάλαμος»
a. 2-voice prologue / Δίφωνος πρόλογος Manuel Gazes the Lampadarios / Μανουὴλ Γαζῆς ὁ Λαμπαδάριος (early 15th c. / άρχη του 15ου αι.)
b. Medieval Byzantine Chant / Μεσαιωνικὸν Βυζαντινὸν μέλος

3 Polyeleos / Πολυέλεος
Andreas Stellon / Ἀνδρέας Στελλῶν (15th c./15 αι.)

4 Kontakion for St. Thomas Aquinas / Κοντάκιον τοῦ Ἀγίου Θωμᾶ Ἀκινάτη
John Plousiadenos / Ἰωάννης Πλουσιαδηνός (ca.1429–1500)

5 Motet / Μοτέτο «Ad dominum cum tribularer»
Franghiskos Leontaritis / Φραγκίσκος Λεονταρίτης (ca.1518–ca.1572)

6 Polyphonic chants for the Divine Liturgy / Πολυφωνικὰ μέλη τῆς Θείας Λειτουργείας
Parthenios Sgoutas? / Παρθένιος Σγούτας; (17th c./17 αι.)

Greek-American Composers from California
Ἑλληνοαμερικανοὶ συνθέτες ἀπὸ τὴν Καλιφόρνια

7 Apolytikion of the Holy Cross / Ἀπολυτίκιον τοῦ Τιμίου Σταυροῦ
8 Kyrie eleison (fortyfold) / Κύριε ἐλέησον (μ΄)
Frank Desby / Φώτιος Δεσποτόπουλος (1922–92)

9 Communion Verse for Saturdays / Κοινωνικὸν τοῦ Σαββάτου
10 Kontakion of the Dead / Νεκρώσιμον Κοντάκιον
Theodore Bogdanos / Θεόδωρος Μπογδάνος (b. 1932)

11 «Joyful Light» / «Φῶς Ἱλαρόν»
Peter Michaelides / Πέτρος Μιχαηλίδης (b. 1930)

12 Introit of Pentecost / Eἰσοδικὸν τῆς Πεντηκοστῆς
13 Communion Verse of Pentecost / Κοινωνικὸν τῆς Πεντηκοστῆς
Tikey Zes / Παναγιώτης Ζῆς (b. 1927)

14 Communion for Sundays «Praise the Lord»
Κοινωνικὸν τῆς Κυριακῆς «Αἰνεῖτε τὸν Κύριον»
Steven Cardiasmenos / Σταύρος Καρδιασμένος (b. 1958)

Works by Michael Adamis / Ἔργα τοῦ Μιχάλη Ἀδάμη (b.1929)

From the Great Supplicatory Service to the Mother of God
Ἀπὸ τὸν Μεγάλον Παρακλητικὸν Κανόναν πρὸς τὴν Θεοτόκον
15 First Ode of the Canon / Α’ ᾨδὴ τοῦ Κανόνος
16 Exapostilaria / Ἐξαποστειλάρια

17 «Radiant Cloud» / «Νεφέλη φωτεινή»

Total time 67:14

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Free Shipping when you make a gift ($25 or more) by June 30. *  
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