Dimitris Lagios

By: | Post date: June 11, 2023 | Comments: No Comments
Posted in categories: Culture, Greece

Opposite my hotel, a monument to Dimitris Lagios (1952-1991): Δημήτρης Λάγιος

May be an image of flower and monument

Lagios worked as a continuator of the Italianate, mandolin-heavy musical tradition of the island, seeking to extend it to loftier subjects than the traditional love songs. He seems to have needed to be pushed into releasing recordings commercially, and his discography on the monument is full of ανέκδοτο, “unreleased, unpublished”.

(Sadly the translator had weak English, and peppered the discography in that language with “anecdote recording”.)

I have heard a minute on YouTube of a setting by him of Kalvos’ hymn to the island.

I loathed it.
A lot of that is my bias against Kalvos, which I’m going to explore later. But some of that is bias against the music as well.
Mandolin-backed four-part vocal harmony is a delight in light entertainment, and I am very happy I experienced at least the two-part version of it here live. But I find it a lot more fun in a taverna than a recording or a concert hall; pressed into service for art poetry, it seems wrong. And any setting of Kalvos’ archaic Greek that didn’t involve a lyre and a chlamys seemed even more wrong.
This is a trip where I confront my biases. At least some of my reaction to Lagios is the inherited prejudice that “your mandolin barbershop quartets are not really Greek, and cannot be taken seriously.” Maybe, maybe not. I’m going to try him out again, after I’ve heard a decent amount of Zante music (which sadly will have to be recordings). Maybe I will change my mind about him.
Maybe, maybe not. Bear in mind, I can’t even stomach Manos Hatzidakis, I find him too French for me…

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