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Athens Philharmonic Enchants in Carnegie Hall Debut

Photo by Fadi Kheir Photography
An excellent concert could be heard at New York’s Carnegie Hall—on the evening of Thursday, October 10th—with the appearance of the fine musicians of the newly founded Athens Philharmonic under the admirable direction of Yiannis Hadjiloizou.
The program opened with a delightful work by the conductor’s father, Michael Hadjiloizou, a leading Greek Cypriot composer: the U.S. premiere of the Ballet from his opera, 9th of July 1821–The Song of Kyprianoswhich has a libretto after the poetry of Vasilis Michaelides, a major Greek poet from Cyprus of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The influence of Greek folk music is palpable throughout the piece.
Also enchanting was the U.S. premiere of the conductor’s Cyprus Dance No. 1, Servikos, which draws on the Greek folk tradition of Cyprus, and which the program note describes as “the most popular work of symphonic repertoire on the isle.”
The bulk of the concert, however, was devoted to an accomplished reading of Gustav Mahler’s magnificent Symphony No. 2, “Resurrection.” The opening movement was somber but punctuated with lyrical passages as well as several highly dramatic ones. Sprightlier was the ensuing slow movement while more eccentric was the remarkable Scherzo, an instrumental adaptation of a poem from the 19th-century anthology, Des Knaben Wunderhorn. Another poem from that collection is the basis for the setting that comprises the gorgeous fourth movement, “Urlicht,” beautifully sung by Greek-American mezzo-soprano, Daveda Karanas. For the transcendent finale, the musicians were joined by the impressive singers of the NY Choral Society—directed by David Hayes—and the exquisite soprano, Larisa Martinez. The artists received an enthusiastic ovation—let’s hope that they return to the New York concert stages before long.

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