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Frossini: Excerpts

With:
Slovak Radio Symphony Orchestra
Joel Eric Suben, conductor
Stamatina Malakate, soprano
Anna Agathonos, mezzo soprano
On:
Capstone Records, CPS-8662
(Stereo, DDD, 1999)
Cover Photo: Voula Papaioannou
 

   

Background and Plot

   

Libretto (in Greek)

     
1.
Intermezzo (8:34)
     
    ACT II
2.
Elia (13:27)
3.
Was It August? (6:01)
4.
The Windmill (5:59)
     
    ACT III, SCENE II
 
5.
Calm, Storm and Sunburst (13:17)
6.
Frossini at Sunset (7:14)
7.
Contemplation (4:57)
8.
Revelries and Distractions (2:30)
  9. Anguish (4:10)
10. Entrance of the Guards and Resignation (5:30)

 

Review

American Record Guide - November/December 1999 - Parsons

"F. DiArta-Angeli is the pseudonym of Gerasimos Nicholas Tsandoulas. The composer was born (no year given) in Arta in the province of Epirus in Northwestern Greece. He was not introduced to classical music until well into his teens, when he was sent to the United States to be educated at Phillips Exeter, Harvard, and the University of Pennsylvania. "Professional career pressures" (the booklet does not say what) took precedence, and it was not until the 1980s that he was able to devote himself to serious composition. DiArta's music is fully in the Western tradition - tonal romanticism, with a classical purity of line, simple and direct expression - heavy on the romanticism.

DiArta based Frossini on Greek-Turkish history as expressed in the epic poem Kyra Frossini by the 19th Century poet A. Valaoritis. He also added poems by Lorentzos Mavilis, C Palamas, and Cavafy. The opera concerns Ali Pasha (1741-1822), governor of European Turkey, with the city of Yannena in the Greek province of Epirus as the capital. Ali Pasha was quite ruthless, devoid of morals. Although nominally in the service of the Sultan of Constantinople, Ali Pasha managed freely with the European powers, including Napoleon. He was even visited by Lord Byron, who makes a cameo appearance in the opera. Ali's rebellion against the Sultan failed and he was imprisoned on a small island in Lake Yannena. He was eventually shot there by the Sultan's agents. The opera's central character is Frossini, a Greek woman of great beauty living in Yannena. She became the mistress of Mouchtar, Ali's eldest son. Mouchtar's Muslim wives plotted against her and caused her downfall. Another tradition says that Frossini attracted the unwanted attentions of Ali himself. When she resisted his advances, Ali accused her of treason and had her executed by drowning in the lake of Yannena.

The disc contains ten extensive excerpts from the opera, including what seems to be almost the entire final scene (Act 3, Scene 2). A hauntingly beautiful orchestral Intermezzo from Act 2 begins the recording. The excerpts are settings of individual poems (of the poets listed above) interpolated into the story. An extended aria for Frossini's death concludes the work. It is a little difficult to follow exactly what is happening, for, despite a fairly detailed plot synopsis the libretto is represented only by four of the sung poems in English translation, with the original Greek text in Greek script. Still, it is easy enough to understand the outline of the story. What is truly impressive here is the music. It has a gentle melancholy, a wistful tunefulness about it, steeped in full-blown romantic tradition. It's very listenable and quite moving in a vague sort of way. I wish the entire opera had been recorded.

The performances are quite fine, especially mezzo-soprano Ann Agathonos as Frossini's devoted maid Chrissi. Agathonos has a rich, warm, smokey voice, lushly produced. I could wish for more tonal allure (a bit less edge) from Malakate's Frossini, but she is deep into the role's dramatics and is a pointed contrast vocally to Agathonos. Conductor Suben and the Slovak Orchestra make much of their orchestral assignments, with lots of atmosphere and romance."

 


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"...and the eagle flies..."

With:
Slovak Radio Symphony Orchestra
Joel Eric Suben, conductor
On:
Capstone Records, CPS-8634
(Stereo, DDD, 1997)

Cover Photo: Galen Rowell

 

• Sta Pestá (14:51)
  Symphonic Poem for Orchestra in Celebration of
A Festival in the Village of Pesta in Epirus, Greece


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The Orchestra According to the Seven

With:
Slovak Radio Symphony Orchestra
Joel Eric Suben, conductor
On:
Opus One, CD#170
(Stereo, 1996)
 

• Intermezzo (6:27)
Exquisitely Crafted Classic Example of the Genre
 
• Pantokrator (8:37)
Symphonic Scherzo for Orchestra, descriptive
of A Panoramic Vista in the Town of Preveza, Greece

 



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With:
Johana Arnold, soprano
Yolanda Liepa, piano
On:
Opus One, LP#83
(Stereo, 1983)

Cover Photo: Valerie J. Janesick

 

• Elià (11:30)
Rhapsody on the Poem Elià (The Olive Tree) by L. Mavilis

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