Kouarteto Se 4 Kiniseis

Zbigniew Preisner

" Kouarteto Se 4 Kiniseis is a score with a majority of classical cues, aided by inspiring texts of the Greek poet Kostis Palamas. "

Written by Joep de Bruijn - Review of the regular release

Kouarteto Se 4 Kiniseis (Quartet in 4 Movements) is a 1994 romantic drama directed by Loukia Rikaki and features a score by Zbigniew Preisner. The plot is as follows: Four persons get involved in unexpected events. The seemingly quiet life of a 40-year old couple Alexandra and Antoni, will be disturbed when almost simultaneously two unexpected people occur in their lives. Stephanos the famous Greek composer from abroad who comes to Greece every year and gives unique and peculiar performances and Klairi an impressive 18-year old girl. Two persons that will drive Antonis and Alexandra in erotic adventures in an attempt to escape from their marital crisis. A film about love, personal relationships and the small details that determine our feelings and our communication with those around us.

Zbigniew Preisner film collaboration with director Krystof Kieslowski ended with the Trois Couleurs trilogy. Kieslowski wanted to pursue a different career and stop working for film altogether in 1995. They meant to continue their partnership through a special classical concert in Acropolis, Greece, yet a scheduled concert never saw the day of light. The composed piece was called Life, released as the second movement of 1998´Requiem for a Friend, and performed in various places in the following years.

Upon listening to Kouarteto Se 4 Kiniseis, it is not difficult to see how it fits in the musical idiom of Preisner; his specific recording methods, his use of regular soloist, moments of operatic beauty, distilled nostalgia and familiar musical techniques provide for the idiosyncratic musical qualities of the composer. Because of that, unlike a variety of other good composers, I have generally never grown tired of his music.

Alike the gorgeous Greek singing in the piece Kai Kairós (from Life), Kouarteto Se 4 Kiniseis is a score with a majority of classical cues, aided by inspiring texts of the Greek poet Kostis Palamas. Kosmoplastra Musiki (Music, Creator of the World) (7:26) is the first cue to use his words in a Preisner-laden work of distilled beauty, with a spectacular performance of soprano Elżbieta Towarnicka, an inclining orchestra, intimate soloists and choir. It does remind me a lot of some music of Eleni Karaindrou, especially her stage plays. The cue is also heard in an instrumental version, while being performed twice by Greek singer Manolis Lidakis in 5 minute versions. Track 8 is a more intimate variation in which he is musically supported by the solo performances of plucked strings, while in track 18, halfway through, the solo instrument is aided by orchestral and choir performances, harking back to the lengthier (vocal and instrumental) version. It is quite something to introduce the musically most divers version, with the outstanding soprano, first. Yet, it is such a delight to hear four different takes on the same composition, seeing how they intertwine musically, emotionally and lyrically, but each in their own right becomes memorable.

The musical contributions of Lidakis extend to three more cues, of which The Souls Of The Earth receives a similar treatment like Kosmoplastra Musiki, one with him singing upon the poet's text, the other being instrumental. However, the third track called Matia Palatia is quite a deviating, slightly less interesting piece, including great vocal performances and traditional Greek instruments, not really sounding like a cue done by the composer. Even though he sometimes ventures into new territories, his music is generally coherent and consistent in sound. However, Mala Palatia is still quite good compared to his curious musical contributions to artists such as David Gilmour.

Also, Elżbieta Towarnicka´ mesmerizing qualities are reserved for two additional cues (Dawn (L'Aurore) and Claire’s Dance. In Dawn (L'Aurore) the spacious and intimate performances of harp and piano support her voice with such restraint, at 3:46 flowing into the introduction of the love theme by a solo violin. Onward, the three soloists perform in harmonious and spine tingling interplay until it ends. For those who know the music of Preisner, they will recognize these moments that are nothing short of magic. The second cue, Claire's Dance, featuring the soprano is a lovely dance, with wordless vocals.

The love theme, as introduced in Dawn (L'Aurore), is also heard in the engaging Paysage Absolu, and Quartet In Nafpliosolo, which starts with a solo violin and is handed over to a solo flute in the second half. Another theme is what I refer to as a theme of Nostalgia, heard in the cue with the same name, Nasou and An Island. What they share is an equally evocative sense of nostalgia through subtle bass, mournful alto sax and solo piano.

Kouarteto Se 4 Kiniseis is an extension of the Preisner´ excellence in writing music, but intuitively is one of his most notable works. The score was released by Colombia records in 1994 on lp and cd. Unfortunately, like Mouvements du Désir, FairyTale: A True Story and other notable works, you are condemned to purchase them for fluctuating prices on the second market. Instead, several, largely available works have received psychical and digital re-releases, which begs to differ.

1. Kosmoplastra Musiki (Music, Creator Of The World) - soprano: Elżbieta Towarnicka 7:31
2. A Light (Une Lumiere) 1:29
3. Claire's Dance . soprano: Elżbieta Towarnicka 2:08
4. Andoni's Reflections 1:21
5. Dawn (L'Aurore) - soprano: Elżbieta Towarnicka 6:00
6. Nousou (Women's Language) 1:06
7. Quartet in Nafplio (Love Theme) 3:10
8. Manolis Lidakis - Kosmoplastra Musiki (Music, Creator Of The World) - vocal: Manolis Lidakis 5:05
9. An Island (Une Ile) 0:56
10. Quartet for Alexandra 0:52
11. The Souls Of The Earth (Les Ames De La Terre) - vocal: Manolis Lidakis 2:34
12. Nostalgia 2:19
13. Paysage Absolu 2:19
14. Alexandra Has Left 0:29
15. Matia Palatia (Eyes Like Palaces) - vocal: Manolis Lidakis 3:47
16. Where the Angels fear 1:29
17. Kosmoplastra Musiki (Instrumental Version) 7:30
18. The Souls Of The Earth (Instrumental Version) 2:35
19. Kosmoplastra Musiki II (Music, Creator Of The World) - vocal: Manolis Lidakis 4:48

Total duration: 57:28

(written 14-01-2020)
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Released by

Columbia (regular release 1994)