a look at the music of Vangelis Papathanassiou

Greek performer Irene Papas is renowned both as a singer and as an actress. She made fame with acting in movies as "The guns of Navarone" (1961), Michael Cacoyannis' "Zorba the Greek" (1964) and Costa-Gavras "Z" (1969). One of her last parts as an actor she played a role in the movie "Captain's Corelli Mandolin" (2001). Also, together with her husband director Michael Cacoyannis she created many films based on the original plays of Euripides, namely "Electra" (1960), "Trojan Women" (1971) and "Iphigenia" (1976). Apart from movies Irene has directed many Greek plays staged in theatres, more recently "Las Troyanas" (2001) in Sagunto (Spain), "Ecuba" (2003) in Rome (Italy) and "Antigone" (2005) in Syracuse (Sicily, Italy). She is currently president of three acting schools, the "City of the Scenic Arts" of Sagunto, the "Tor Vergata" of Rome and the "To Skolion" of Athens.

Tracklist and credits

as printed on the cd


1979 Polydor 2473109 Greece/France/Spain/Holland
1979 Polydor 2417343 West-Germany
1981 Polydor 6039 Argentina (titled 'Odas')
1992 Polydor 833864 South-Korea

1979 Polydor 833864 Greece/West-Germany/USA/Canada
2007 Polydor 06025 1720633 5 Greece (remastered)

1979 Les 40 braves / Les Kolokotronei  Polydor 2815209 France

Recording studio
The music for this album was recorded at Nemo Studios in London, England.


bulletThe music of Odes is inspired by and mostly based on tradional Greek folk songs.
bulletVangelis and Irene have worked together on many occasions...
bulletmost noticeably for the first time, Irene sings on the last Aphrodite's Child album "666". The provocative song 'Infinity' (oo) sung by Irene delayed the initial release of the album.
bulletThe second album they made together was recorded in 1986 and released as "Rapsodies".
bulletAs an actress Irene has performed in many plays and movies. For some of the plays Vangelis provided the score,
in 1983 "Elektra" performed at the Epidaurus theatre in Greece,
in 1992 "Medea" performed in Barcelona, Spain,
in 2001 "Las Troyanas" performed in Sagunto, Spain,
in 2003 "Ecuba" (together with "Le Troiane") performed in Rome, Italy,
in 2005 "Antigone" performed in Syracuse, Italy.
bulletSome of the music of Odes was used as a score to the film 'Russicum' (also known as 'The third solution') in 1989.
bulletOne of the tracks of Odes was also heard in a different arrangement during the Olympic flame ceremony held in Athens in 1988.

For all the lyrics of this album, go to : Vangelis and Irene Papas lyrics: Odes

On ‘Odes’ Vangelis teams up again with an old friend who'd worked with him before on the Aphrodite's Child album '666'. All songs Greek actress Irene Papas sings on this album are Greek traditionals to which Vangelis adds two instrumental tracks. ‘Odes’ is one of the very few projects Vangelis has been involved in that also has any sort of literary component. Greek author turned politician Arianna Stassinopoulos, who wrote books on Maria Callas and Pablo Picasso, contributes some poems and texts along with Irene Papas, which are printed in the booklet. The latter wrote a few rather dramatic introductory lines, in which she relates how the songs were always with her from childhood, how they reflect the emotions and common destiny of the people in the communities in which they survive across time and place. This folk music is rather austere but quite evocative and uses mostly those typically Mediterranean modal harmonies. Vangelis on the whole makes sparing use of his instruments with Irene Papas sometimes even singing on her own or accompanied by a single melody-line. She hasn't got a great voice, a bit like that of Marianne Faithfull, but it’s quite effective and suits this music. And of course she speaks Greek so is able to really “act out” the songs.
The heroic opening track is about an army of youthful freedom fighters on their way to war. It has a few equally dramatic outbursts by Vangelis plus a few exchanges between a little choir representing the youths and Irene Papas representing an old man they meet along the way, set to marching music. The slow lyrical piece that follows is about the fading colors of a tired old orange tree, presumably symbolizing the tragic plight of Greece during occupation. ‘La Danse du Feu’ is the first of the
Vangelis composed instrumental pieces. After a fast intro it settles down to a more lyrical mode where Vangelis again uses that deeply expressive vaguely Arab bass-sound also employed on his album 'Earth', to great effect. ‘Kolokotronei’ refers to a famous family in Greece’s history and is again a slow lyrical song, this time sung a cappella by Irene Papas, with Vangelis making it sound like she sings it in a church, using lots of echo. ‘Le Fleuve’ has a more persistent rhythm to go with the poem about the river of life and some beautiful flowing instrumental passages. ‘Racines’ (meaning ‘roots’) is the second instrumental composed by Vangelis and longest track on the album. It consists of a sequence of slightly bluesy keyboard-solos using alternatively a flute-like sound and the same bass-sound as in the first instrumental, set against a slow sequencer-pattern. The two ladies wrote a few accompanying lines about Vangelis remembering all sorts of impressions which go into his music, a bit like his own text in the booklet for Mythodea. The title of the penultimate track ‘Lamento’ speaks for itself, a tragic atmosphere is set up by low string sounds and long suffering notes, again with flute and bass keyboard-solos by Vangelis. In contrast, the last track is more upbeat although the song apparently relates a tale of Menousis defending his honor against other men by killing his wife. Vangelis plays along with the tune and adds some simple percussion, and the little choir also makes a brief return.
Vangelis has stated he made this album to “resurrect” these songs which were in danger of becoming dusty old museum pieces and that consequently it became quite a popular work in Greece, this at a time when he was still working far away in England. Maybe those more traditionally inclined would have felt this to be tampering with the original material, and one could say that the high-pitched sort of cosmic noises introduced in some tracks are a touch superfluous. Nevertheless, this must count as a tasteful and sincere work by three Greeks keeping the flame of their ancient culture burning.

Review by Ivar de Vries