• chrisdumigan

Elena Papandreou : Laureate Series – Guitar : CD

N.MAMANGAKIS: Folk Dance Suite; Hroes: STRAVINSKY (Arr. Mamangakis): Three pieces from The Soldier’s Tale: DYENS: Saudade No3; Tango en Skai: KOSHKIN: Usher Waltz: THEODORAKIS (Arr. Papandreou): Two Songs from Lyricotera: BOUDOUNIS: Eight Summaries; Tsifteteli for Elena; Cocktail.

Elena Papandreou

Naxos: 8.554001

If the Naxos Laureate guitar series has not been investigated by you, then I can only say that it has some of the most interesting and extensive recitals in its vast collection. This latest one from Greek – born Papandreou, is very appealing because like so many of the others in this series it has a lot of material that , unless you have specifically studied the Greek classical guitar repertoire, as judging by this latest CD, Elena Papandreou has, will be an almost entirely new listening experience.

Nikos Mamangakis’ Folk Dance Suite is in 5 movements, the music of which is so versatile, and expressive, and yet at times utterly unusual, that it seems to fit the guitar amazingly well and he must have been a guitar player. All the movements are named after dances that may be new to you, as indeed they were to me. There is a Hassapiko, 2 Zeimbekikos, a Tsifteteli, and finally a Karsilamas, all of varying speeds and styles, and all very tonal but in an unusual way that means they sound quite different. Mamangakis arranged three pieces from Igor Stravinsky’s The Soldier’s Tale, originally to be read, played and danced by three actors and some dancers, accompanied by a septet of instruments. Although that doesn’t seem to make this a natural set of pieces to arrange for the guitar, they work very well, with the musical style being modern, to the point of atonal. The next three pieces are liable to be the pieces that most listeners might recognize, namely the Saudade No3, and Tango En Skai by the wonderful Roland Dyens, and The Usher Waltz by Nikita Koshkin, the Russian player/composer. All three get beautiful and expressive renditions here by Elena Papandreou. The next pair of pieces , are from a song cycle Lyricotera by the recently deceased Mikis Theodorakis (He died in September this year aged 96).Arranged by Papandreou they sound utterly reliable in their guitaristic guise and the music itself, is at times dark, with unexpected chord progressions, and very expressive at others. The second work by Mamangakis is apparently an arrangement of a song Hroes, and turns out to be almost entirely atonal, abrupt and sharply dissonant throughout, sounding to my ears nothing like a song. Well played as it is, this piece is by far the most difficult if you don’t take to the ultra modern style that it inhabits. The final collection of pieces are all by Vangelis Boudounis, who is a guitarist who has enriched the repertoire with many works for 1 and 2 guitars , and also many transcriptions and arrangements. The Eight Summaries are modern in style. They are small in stature but large in character .From the opening Lento with its momentary almost folk – like moments to the depressed Largo and the happy dancing Giocoso that follow, they inhabit a very attractive sound world. The Tsifteteli for Elena is quirky and musically very diverse, and the dedicatee does a miraculous job of interpreting it. The final Cocktail is again full of musical contrasts almost constantly changing from one idea to another .It is obvious from hearing Boudounis’ music that it is very original, extremely playable and should be heard more often outside of Greece!

This is a wonderfully diverse recital, with lots of new music that you will enjoy, and that will sound like almost nothing you have heard before .The performances are first rate, the recording is very clear and with lots of character, and as I said before this Laureate Series is really one way to get some fabulous music from many different players, and at a price that suits most pocket! Wonderful!

Chris Dumigan

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