En Pyri / Bacchae (Holotype Editions)
Jazz / Avant Garde
Two previously unreleased recordings from one of Greece’s pioneers of electroacoustic music. Stephanos Vassiliadis (b.1933 – d. 2004) founded in 1979, together with Iannis Xenakis, the Contemporary Music Research Center (CMRC) and remained its director until his death in 2004. His largely undocumented artistic output consists of works for theatre productions, mostly unfinished or fragmented electroacoustic pieces, as well as numerous children songs. Vassiliadis was also a significant pedagogue and some of his initiatives have reformed the musical education system of Greece.
EN PYRI (1973)
Recorded in 1976 by Andreas Rodousakis on double-bass and the composer himself on the mixing desk of Radio Sweden Studio in Stockholm, En Pyri presents a previously unreleased version of Stephanos Vassiliadis’s composition for tape and double-bass written in the memory of Jani Christou. En Pyri was composed three years after a multi-fatal car crash that caused the untimely deaths of Anastasia Vassiliadi (first wife of Stephanos Vassiliadis), Jani Christou (acclaimed composer, close friend and collaborator of Stephanos Vassiliadis) and of Christous’s wife Theresia Christou Choremi. The title En Pyri, translating as In Fire, comes from the First Epistle of the Corinthians “..for the day will disclose it, because it is revealed in fire..”, referring to that what remains after death, or in the composer’s words: “man’s song-creation is the only thing that can withstand and overcome destruction”.
The fire is clearly pictured during a particularly long climax starting midway to the end of the piece. The dramatic aspect of this spectrally dense section is even stronger during live shows, with the performer centre-stage fiercely playing double-bass, but failing to be heard over the full-range audio of the 8-track tape. This staged element of En Pyri is inevitably lost with the reproduction of this recording, but the audio alone carries a heavy load. Sounds as if written out of total need and almost physical necessity to deal with death and loss. At the end of the composition, while the performer is still onstage, a quiet tone is “revealed” and held for a few minutes signifying that what remains; that what is “revealed in fire”.
In most performances of En Pyri, Vassiliadis was on the mixing desk. According to statements of his close friends and collaborators, he would gradually increase the level of the 8-track tape to the point he could physically feel the sound on his body. Needless to say, playback of this track in maximum volume is highly recommended.