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Following in the footsteps of such melodic neo-Romantics as Henryk Górecki and Arvo Pärt, Eleni Karaindrou pens music of haunting stillness, creating sounds that highlight the elusive passing of time. Her score for Ulysses’ Gaze, a film that has yet to find U.S. distribution even though it won the 1995 Cannes Grand Jury Prize, suggests that such simplicity of sound can be as riveting as the fury of a Mahler symphony. The work revolves around a single melancholy theme for solo viola, meticulously phrased by Kim Kashkashian, a young talent who has garnered much acclaim for her interpretations of 20th-century works. The foundation of the music is provided by a traditional chamber orchestra, with the unlikely addition of an accordion lending a surprisingly wistful folk touch to an otherwise bleak sonic landscape. Karaindrou employs a theme-and-variations structure to perpetuate a somber mood throughout the work and is particularly successful in moments when the viola is in conversation with the oboe. Here, minimalism is defined not by simple repetition but by the sparseness and delicacy of the interplay of the two instruments. Intimate and introspective, Karaindrou’s spare score suggests yearnings for a lover long dead, or as the title implies, a desperate attempt to recover a homeland lost to the cloud of memory.

—Amy Domingues