THE MEDITERRANEAN SONG
Henrique Silveira
 
This is a album of travel and return, a return to the theme of the Mediterranean in a perpetual movement of cyclical logic which first questions us and then takes us on a journey in space and time. Homer and Ulysses are our guides and this is an Odyssey which takes us to the Cyprus of the ancient knights and the Atlantis of the navigators and poets. The album is sung in Italian and in Greek-Cypriot in “Cacilda”. It is a journey and fusion of a perfect logic which unites the guitar that sings Portugal with other instruments from our western tradition, the guitolão (a combination of the Portuguese and classical guitars), piano and clarinet, and the vocals of Cypriot singer, Kyriakoula Constantinou.
The first track of this CD, with the heavy chords of the bass clarinet of Gonçalo Lopes, takes repeated flights which slowly develop into variations over the persistent bass notes led by the guitar, and then takes us on a trip from an evocative melancholy to a gentle dance that suggests infinite peace. The song ends by nostalgically evoking the initial theme. Is “Argvs” the myth visited on this journey, Argos the Greek, son of Zeus and Niobe, who built the ship of the Argonauts, or just the faithful dog of Odysseus? Is Argos the ship from the saga of the Argonauts? That doubt is lost in the melancholy of forgotten civilisations. The ambiguity between the two tracks which mark this opening to the Mediterranean, this journey of nostalgia, transported by the Coimbra guitar, a vibrant instrument of evocation and of the memory of lost navigators, but also of an embrace, an entwining of the immemorial descendants of Greeks, Phoenicians, Romans, Numidians, Egyptians, Arabs and Islanders of Malta, Cyprus and Crete, among other already forgotten peoples who live on in the genes of those who travel in Luisa Amaro’s object of worship,  through the hidden memories that can only be revealed by music. It is an emotional revelation, a revelation that helps us to sense the noumenon of our common, eternal memory.
The next track is “Xácaras”, a typical popular narrative, a myth sung and appropriated by the people. We can feel Circe of Ulysses in the witch. Here the clarinet introduces this brilliant theme taken up once more by the voice of Kyriakoula Constantinou, surprising in its velvet soft register, so proper to popular Greek music. The music oscillates between the tenacious rhythms of the guitar and increasingly complex vocals which, accompanied now by the piano, take us to a criss-crossing dialogue between East and West, between the world of Greece and the world of the Atlantic. Plato spoke of Atlantis, the true Atlantis founded by Portugal outside the Pillars of Hercules.
Apollo’s prophet, “Tiresias”, now leads us to the Greek Thebes. The blind man surprises all with his clairvoyance and this same surprise is created by the bass clarinet as it creates an almost sinister ambience expel without hesitation by the guitar, with the same nostalgia that we feel throughout this CD. Teresias is the man who lived as a woman for seven years, the guitar of Coimbra and Portugal, the man who saw and felt everything; Tiresias is Carlos Paredes, reincarnated in this music through the hands of Luisa Amaro. Free of the heavy yoke of the oracle, she has created her own language, a perpetual cyclical movement which opens and drains into a Mediterranean sea which is hers... and ours.
 
 
 
 
 
 
The fourth track of this CD is once again a Greek lullaby, with the vocals of Kyriakoula Constantinou. After an instrumental introduction with the guitar of Luisa Amaro and the piano of Enrico Bindocci, who is also responsible for the arrangements of the vocals, the cantilena, “Cacilda”, is sung with long notes and the harmonic support of the guitar. The music is a dialogue between the voice of the guitar and the surprising and beautiful fragility of the singer who, almost unaccompanied, cradles the child of Odysses.  The poetry is recited towards the end of the track, and gradually returns from its free poetic digression to the logic of the melody, to close with another Cartesian conclusion as an eternal return.
The guitar and clarinet are back again in “Circe”, the same sorceress I spoke of before, whose island attracts the traveller. Ulysses converses with the sorceress, as the bass clarinet converses with the guitar. Obsessive and bewitching, the guitar floats over the gentle, deep melody of the clarinet, taking it to the land of enchantment from which there is no return, to the absence of memory that can only be felt in the pain of the soul. But the guitar cannot make the clarinet dance to its tune, it is the opposite: as the music develops we see it is the languid melody of the male voice of the wind instrument that will make Circe sing. The discourse of the Odyssey’s navigator defeats Circe. Later, much later, Ulysses will return to his homeland, rescuing his men on the way, but it is the beautiful Circe and her enchantments that Homer, another blind man who sees all, evokes with the fervour of his poem.
It is with this track that the album reaches its metaphysical climax at the core of the fusion of two worlds, the world of the luminous Atlantic and the world of the Mediterranean, united by the genes and the unconscious of the same people - a people of insatiable and curious navigators, united by the olive trees on the shores of our sea, by Greek myths and Lusitanian poetry, poetry of nostalgia and the richness of words transformed into music. The track develops, there are variations from the clarinet, and the fingered instruments and the piano accompany the vocals in a recursive spiral,  prolonged to eternity, with the cyclical culmination of the singer’s voice evoking desires never fulfilled, desires suffocated by a tragic, fatalistic and essentially Christian matrix which has moulded this Mediterranean of ours.
The rhetoric of searching, in a kind of ricercar, appears once again in “Odyssey”. What was once imagined now emerges full of light. Ulysses finally appears in his natural brilliance, gently painted by the guitar in brilliant, sonorous trebles, and always followed by the faithful Argos, paraphrased by the bass clarinet which supports the song of the Odyssey along its way. As the Franciscans say, “the way is made by walking along it”, and the dialogue and the search for destiny are felt in every note, in every arpeggio of eminent Portuguese song. The inspiration for each bend in the path is gently reborn during the track. Ulysses is already watching Penelope as she weaves in the distance.
Before the end of the journey, accompanied by the guitar and the piano, it is the singing of the distant woman that is heard in the supreme melancholy of Greek song of Penelope, who will be with Odysseus at the end of his journey. Memories are reminiscent of an unreal time, and we do not know if twenty years or twenty centuries have passed since the dream was created of a young wife sitting spinning in her ladies room. All of this happened before the numerous wars which mutilated and made the Mediterranean lose the candour of its primordial virginity. Millions have been exterminated since a group of heroes left for Troy. Today, nothing corresponds to this memory of paradise lost. Reality made of a suspended present without a memory, lost somewhere in nostalgia, is broken by listening to an old evocative and languid melody.
The motherland is still ever present in the heart of the wanderer, and dictates the end of the long journey - the rose is extinguished, beautiful in its final ecstasy. But before Ulysses arrives home, he has to pass by Lisbon, the non-existent city, the submerged Atlantis still to be realised. Olissipo, the luminous one that is heard in “Cardaes”, the memory of Carlos Paredes, the memory of the convents that fed the imagination of the poets and seduced King D. João V and Bocage, is also linked to the song of the Madonna sung in processions in Italy, which is Kyriakoula Constantinou’s contribution to this collective work, this contribution being a return of Mediterranean culture once again. A digression in the form of variations improvised together by the musicians, in which the genius and collective memory of the Portuguese musicians meet the Mare Nostrum of Italian song sung by a Cypriot voice. Memory and nostalgia in their pure state, the future created again with each beat, renewal and hope, moments of reflection and moments of exaltation - “Cardaes” is spirit made into music. Cardais is the legacy of Ulysses for everything always; he is the true founder of Atlantis. Ulysses, the precursor, builds the future capital of the Fifth Empire, an empire that is only mist and dreams, and it is in Lisbon that another poet will sing Greek and Gama, and another still, a poet more primordial than all of the others, will despair for the death of God, and he himself will die drowning in absinthe. All sang of the confrontation with Adamastor (Mostrengo) at the end of the oceans, all transported the witness of the Ithacan and all succumbed to the old man of Restelo (the character created by Luís de Camões to symbolise pessimistic, reactionary and conservative people).
“Desideri” is a parodoxical, mystical coincidence. The music of Luisa Amaro, of clearly Lusitanian inspiration, with echoing turns, echoes of Carlos Paredes and dance rhythms, and always with the bass clarinet in the background, was shown to the Cypriot singer, Kyriakoula Constantinou who immediately saw how it particularly coincided with the popular song called “Desideri”. An extremely slow, very popular kind of melopoeia, a kind of collective unconscious which insinuates its presence and subtly awakens the dreamy feeling of the artist in the unfathomable call for  the eternal destiny of passion. The similarities become very clear when the singer frees herself from her languorous reverie and the rhythm of the music becomes more universal.
Then we come to the end of the Odyssey, the ship of Ulysses returns to Ithaca, and a wrinkled “Penelope”, made beautiful by the marks of time, receives the traveller as they had left yesterday. Time is from the lament of the guitar, it is the eternal feminine, mother and lover, who gathers the spoils shrouded by the wind of a love perfected from afar, in the sea and far away. Ulysses can die in peace; the woman he abandoned twenty years ago will wash his body. The return is simple, the music is restful and closes with gentle chords, just like the beginning and, cyclically, the traveller returns to the port of departure.
 
Lisbon, April 2014
Luisa Amaro
Argvs
ENGLISH
PORTUGUÊS
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