Guitar Recital: Elena Papandreou (Elena Papandreou) (Naxos: 8.554001)
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Nikos Mamangakis: FolkDance Suite
Igor Stravinsky: ThreeMovements from The Soldiers' Tale (arr. Mamangakis)
Roland Dyens: SaudadeNo. 3; Tango en ska?»
Nikita Koshkin: UsherWaltz
Mikis Theodorakis: TwoSongs from "Lyricotera": Dissolving Light, Sob of Angels (arr.
Vangelis Boudounis:Eight Summaries; Tsifteteli for Elena; Cocktail
The Greeks are said to have a word for it; the word 'guitar' may evenhave been derived from the Greek kithara, though they applied it to a formof lyre, and they also have the music for it, a variety of which is included inthis recording. The rest is by composers from countries that have not beentraditionally associated with the Guitar.
Nikos Mamangakis was born in Crete to a family of folk musicians and hisformal studies in music were in Athens and Germany. His prolific outputincludes music for many media and embraces a wide range of compositionalstyles; he is resistant to received conventions and is well known and respectedfor his originality of thought and musical deed. The items in the Folk Suitebear the titles of folk-songs, usually accompanied by various instruments,but Mamangakis comments: "All modern Greek folk-music, rebetica songs, wascomposed on either the guitar or bouzouki and passed afterwards to otherinstruments. The guitar has thus played a leading r??le in this music". Hroesis one of a group of solo-instrumental pieces. It is strictly improvisedmusic which eschews "monolithic musical tendencies". Mamangakis adds:"Hroes is a word that was used a great deal in ancient Greek andByzantine music It signifies nuances - in these pieces, of colour".
When Igor Stravinsky asked Andr?¿s Segovia why he had never asked him towrite for the guitar, he was told: "Because I do not want to insult yourmusic by not playing it!" That his view is not shared by everyone, ishappily shown in the arrangement of three pieces from Stravinsky's TheSoldier's Tale (written for three narrators, female dancer and chamberorchestra) by Mamangakis, who at the same time demonstrates his own excellentknowledge of the guitar's capabilities.
The Tunisian-born French guitarist/composer Roland Dyens formallystudied the guitar, composition and orchestration in Paris, since when he hasdeveloped a highly successful international career and a reputation for theoriginality of his compositions. His fascination with Latin American music is,given his background, curious, but stimulating Saudude No. 3 ('Longing')is subtitled Lembran?ºa do Senhor do Banfim da Bahia ('Remembrance ofSenhor Bonfim, a saint whose festival is celebrated annually in the streets ofBahia'), a "kind of homage to Brazilian Nordeste (northeast) and itsAfrican culture". The opening section, Rituel, is a very free,unmeasured improvisation, the second is a dance in the baiao rhythmtypical of Bahia, and the Finale is "maybe my vision of thisfolk-music". Tango en Ska?» began in 1978 as an improvisationbut was not published until 1985, since when it has become a regular part ofthe repertory. It is a caricature of the Argentine tango; as Dyens himselfsays: "Ska?» in French means imitation leather, maybe worse than badplastic! It has to be played with a lot of humour, a maximum of dynamics and aminimum of ruhato. Not at all 'classico-seriously'!".
Nikita Koshkin showed an early interest in music - when he was four hisfavourite composers were Shostakovich and Stravinsky, but he did not begin tostudy music and the guitar until he was fourteen. It was in the early 1980sthat he first became internationally known for his suite The Prince's Toys, revealinghimself as a composer who responds strongly to extra-musical programmaticimages, and is unusually inventive in creating idiomatic effects, which heskilfully brings to the service of his music. Since 1990 he has been able tovisit many other countries on both sides of the Atlantic. It was the thought:"The piano has concert-scale waltzes like Listz's Mephisto Waltz, whyshouldn't the guitar have one" that prompted the composition of the UsherWaltz. It is of course Usher, the fall of whose House was recorded by EdgarAllan Poe. He writes: "The romantic-stylized theme receives a mightydramatic development and reflects not only Usher's (crazy) way of playing theguitar and his increasing madness, but the mood of the story as a whole. Thepiece ends in a gloomy and tired coda".
The Greek composer Mikis Theodorakis had little formal education inmusic before the end of his compulsory military service in 1954, when he wentto study at the Paris Conservatoire. When he returned to Greece, after theproduction of his opera Antigone at Covent Garden, he wrote a scathingattack on the Greek musical establishment, and the popular success of hisrevolutionary; musical doctrines led to his imprisonment by the right-wingmilitary junta in 1967; international protest at his plight brought about hisrelease in 1970. Much of his music is concerned with historical andcontemporary Greek subjects, and arrangements of some pieces were recorded byJohn Williams in the 1970s. Elena Papandreou's arrangements of two items fromthe song-cycle Lyricotera were made at the composers' suggestion.
Vangelis Boudounis studied the guitar in his native Athens and later inSpain, Italy and Canada, though he regards Manos Hadjidakis, with whom heworked from 1975, as "the most significant" teacher he ever had. Hehas enjoyed considerable success as a player, composer and teacher in manycountries. Regarding the pieces on this recording he says: "Whatpredominates is rhythm that often starts from rock music but is later disturbedby odd bars of 5/8, 7/8 and 9/8, which are often met in Greek folk music".
The Eight Summaries seem to tell little stories briefly and withoutdevelopment. "The traditional Tsifteteli is a dance in duple time(2/4, 4/4) but the Tsifteteli for Elena was not composed for dancing; itbegins in 4/4 time, but before long many different times appear, which may bedifficult for a musician brought up with West-European culture. There are alsounmeasured parts that give the player the opportunity to treat them freely. Theinitial 4/4 time reappears at the end". Cocktail was written at atime when Boudounis wanted to escape from his then conservative way of playing.
Like Dyens' Tango en Ska?», it was first improvised in concert and laterwritten down. Thus, though its structure is very clear, it retains spontaneityand an improvisatory character.
John W. Duarte