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Psarantonis & Ensemble

Psarantonis & Ensemble / Son Of Psiloritis

Son Of Psiloritis

Fierce and independent, the people of Crete are loath to call themselves Europeans – let alone Greeks. Their folk music is a pure attest to this wild, unpredictable, and indomitable spirit.

The principal instrument is a three-stringed "lyra", a fiddle which rests on one knee. Its strings are not pressed down but are grazed or struck by the fingernails, permitting fast and dynamic playing of ornaments and passages in a way unrivaled by any other melody instrument. The lyra is accompanied by the laouto, a double-strung instrument similar to the lute.

Perched on the northern slope of Psiloritis, the highest mountain range in Crete, the village of Anogia has traditionally produced the island’s most celebrated lyra players.

Just as Nikos Kazantzakis occupies a singular place in the literature of the island, its folk music owes much to the Xylouris family. Of all the lyra players and musicians of Crete, however, Psarantonis is clearly the most idiosyncratic.

True to the barren, craggy slopes of Psiloritis, his music runs the gamut of tender to tempestuous, alternately caressing and chastising his instrument as if driven by the exalted spirit of the mountain winds. His harsh and utterly inimitable style of singing is a perfect counterpoint to his frequently experimental playing.

Although his repertoire includes a wide variety of traditional Cretan folk music, he is primarily known for his own compositions and poems – and surprises.

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