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"Zorba" by Charles Dutoit

Zorbas Ballet; Adagio; 3 Pieces from Carnaval
Ioanna Forti (soprano)
Montréal Symphony Chorus
Montréal Symphony Orchestra
Philharmonia Orchestra
Charles Dutoit
Decca- 4756130(CD)
No Reference Recording
RATE: 9/8

Mikis Theodorakis' Zorbas Ballet will be recognizable to those familiar with his film score for Zorba the Greek, probably his most famous work outside of his popular songs. Zorbas Ballet, which came after the film, utilizes much of the same thematic material, heard here in the eight selections comprising Part Two of the ballet suite. This is highly energized, highly rhythmic music, rich in melodic content built on modal harmonies--which is not surprising, as Theodorakis drew heavily upon folk materials of his native Greece. This results in a vibrancy and immediacy that has you almost visualizing the dancers before you.

Theodorakis' highly politicized nature seems to find voice in the vocal selections (featuring characterful singing by soprano Ioanna Forti and the Montréal Symphony Chorus), which occasionally sound a good deal like Prokofiev's Alexander Nevsky. Charles Dutoit and the Montréal Symphony provide an electric and enchanting account, enhanced by some virtuoso solo playing.

The disc actually begins in a less festive air with the serenely exotic Adagio for solo flute, string orchestra, and percussion. Kenneth Smith offers a probing rendition supported by Dutoit and the Philharmonia Orchestra. The recorded sound is clear and spacious, though the Montréal sessions offer slightly less bloom than we normally expect from that venue.

--Victor Carr Jr

Published by Classics

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