Marika had a powerful, emotional soprano voice, which was more polished than those of her contemporaries. Because of her stature, many prominent Greek instrumentalists accompanied her on recordings. Various styles are represented in this collection, including: kleftiko, patriotic songs celebrating outlaws who fought against the Ottoman empire; amanedhes, songs with some vocal improvisation; zembekikos, dances originating from the outlaws of Anatolia; and tsamika, slow cross-step circle folk dances.
Compilations like these three present special challenges to listeners unfamiliar with the particular musical forms. Besides language barriers, it’s difficult to decipher the flow and emotions the musician is trying to convey. Unfamiliar modal forms add to the challenge. Finally, the listener must listen through the recording limitations and media decay inherent in older recordings
Digital buyers don’t have access to the album notes written by Nagoski. The notes for Brass Pins & Pearls and The Further the Flame are very useful. Those for 1934-1935 are less so, since they do not discuss the individual tracks. This is unfortunate, because the listener could really use a roadmap in processing the music. Those who have more than a superficial interest should be prepared to use the internet and other resources extensively.
Having said that, these compilations, like the others I’ve reviewed, are remarkable. Nagoski’s passion and intensity for his subject matter are clear, and for those who are open to it, infectious. The listener is left with an appreciation for the skill and artistry of the performers, along with enhanced respect for the traditions they represent.