Savina Yannatou: Sareri hovin mernem


Sareri hovin mernem


Savina Yannatou (vocals)


Songs of an Other (ECM B0011846)

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Savina Yannatou (vocals),

Yannis Alexandris (oud, guitar), Kyriakos Goouventas (violin, viola), Harris Lambrakis (nay), Michalis Siganidis (bass), Kostas Theodorou (percussion, bass), Kostas Vomvolos (quanun, accordion)


Traditional song (from Armenia)


Recorded: Athens, Greece, October 13-15, 2007


Rating: 93/100 (learn more)

Recordings of traditional folk material tend to evoke the past rather than intensify the present. In their attempts to resurrect and preserve the music of a bygone era, the performers risk becoming curators at some aural museum, where the smell of dust and mold lingers obtrusively in the air. Greek singer Savina Yannatou and her colleagues here are a different matter entirely. This music is so vividly present that no distance seems to separate us from the worldview of the songs. The lyrics here translate as: "A year has passed with no word of my beloved. The wind blows from the mountains. The rivers bring no news. Has your heart turned to ice." And I can't help being reminded of that venerable poem about the Western wind, from an anonymous source—probably some sailor or traveler—that comes across as ageless, without date of passport, concluding with the sentiments: "Christ, if my love were in my arms, and I in my bed again!" Yannatou has a delicate voice, yet with hidden reserves of strength, more psychological perhaps than a question of physical equipment. Her accompanists are very much in synch, and when they fall into a stately 12/8 rhythm behind her, it is almost as if a sad and stately procession has walked into the room.

Reviewer: Ted Gioia

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