Greek composer Mikis Theodorakis is probably best known for the soundtrack to the film 'Zorba the Greek,' but he has produced an extensive body of concert music and includes Olivier Messiaen among his teachers. Much of his work has a political subtext and attempts a synthesis of popular, folk and classical symphonic styles, communicating directly with simple rhythms and a pared-down harmonic vocabulary reminiscent of Carl Orff. The oratorio "axion esti" is a setting of a poem by Nobel Prize winner Odysseus Elytis that refers to events of the Second World War and the subsequent German-Italian occupation of Greece. The nationalist flavor of the piece is underscored by the use of Byzantine church music, Greek folk dances and native instruments such as the bouzouki, in addition to a vocalist cast as a "folk singer." This 1983 Dresden performance, conducted by Theodorakis himself, is sung in German.
Issued before the release of Chrominance Decoder, April March's first large-scale U.S. album, Lessons of April March collects tracks March recorded with Bertrand Burgulat (three of which appear on Chrominance Decoder), as well as cuts from her Sympathy for the Record Industry releases (Los Cincos, Chick Habit and Paris in April). As such, the record has a pasted-together feel, largely due to the sheer number of collaborators March has worked with – but at points, it's a lovely showcase for her re-creations of 1960s French pop and yè-yè music. Case in point: the track "Chick Habit," which adapts English lyrics from Serge Gainsbourg's "Laisser Tomber les Filles," originally sung by France Gall. March's more modern tracks are a hit or miss affair here – those which later appeared on Chrominance Decoder are slick, unique and thoroughly worthwhile, but some of the earlier work collected on the album (and the closing track "Jesus and I Love You," from the Orgazmo soundtrack) seem like tacked-on throwaways.