Psarantonis & Markoyannis, Otan se vlepo tragoudo

In 2004 a remarkable co-operation took place in Heraklion between two important men of the musical tradition in Crete. It was Psarantonis (his real name is Antonis Xylouris) and Yannis Markoyannakis. The outcome is the CD “Otan se Vlepo Tragoudo” (When I See you I Sing), released on the Seistron label.

Cretan Music by Psarantonis and Markoyannis

Psarantonis was born in 1942 in Anogeia of Rethymno. He was raised in a family whose members were known for their musical skills. Who can forget his brother Nikos Xylouris? In his childhood, Psarantonis used to be a shepherd. In the mountains, being alone in the wild nature of Crete, he learned to play the lyre. His first public performances were (as is common for us) traditional wedding feasts. Later, at the age of 22, he was in the studio recording his first disc (“I Thought of Denying You”). During the following years a number of his discs were published and he became established as an artist, not only among Cretans, but also among Greeks across the world. He participated several times in music festivals abroad, representing Greece, performing in Germany, France, Switzerland, Austria, Ukraine, Luxembourg but also out of the frontiers of Europe, in America, Australia and Canada.

Psarantonis won his fame especially for the way that he plays the lyre and worthily got the designation of virtuoso. Even if he’s often characterized as “weird”, he definitely represents the traditional music of Crete. But even further, one could say that his lyre’s sounds and his bass voice enclose the wild beauty of Cretan nature and perhaps the “attitude” that people of Crete used to have in the near past and still do in the provinces.

The other participant in this recording, Yannis Markoyannakis is a laouto (lute) player. In every traditional piece of Cretan music, the lyre always needs a lute as accompaniment. Markoyannis -as he’s known- is a quite famous lute player in Crete. He labels with his style and technique every piece in which he participates.

He was born in Spili of Rethymno in 1926. Also raised in a family in which music had a significant importance, he became an amateur musician at the early age of 8. His father was a lyre player and Markoyannis, playing his lute, became his accompanist. He had co-operated with Skordalos, an important artist of Crete, and published their first record in 1946, entitled “Only the One Who Loves”. Markoyannis performed abroad many times, for the Greek immigrants around the world. In Germany, France, Belgium, Australia, Canada and America, where he stayed for one year.

Both artists wanted to join their sounds together and the result is this CD, which unquestionably could be the musical accompaniment to a Cretan festivity. The 11 tracks consisting this production represent the local traditional dances and can give you a taste of how people here celebrate.

  • Performing; Psarantonis: vocals, lyra
  • Yannis Markoyannakis: laouto (lute)
  • Giorgis Xylouris: laouto (lute)
  • Yannis Harkousis: daouli (Greek drums)

With this CD, there are not just sounds, what’s also captured is our tradition and special life style. If you have already been here, you surely know what I mean.

Music Samples from the CD of Psarantonis and Markoyannis


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*Article by Katerina Arabatzi

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