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Roland DYENS (b. 1955)
1. Tango en Skai (1978/1985)  [2:49]
Triaela (2001/2002) [15:21]
2. Light Motif (Takemitsu au Bresil [4:52]
3. Black Horn (when Spain meets jazz) [5:03]
4. Clown Down (Gismonte au cirque) [5:14]
5. Songe Capricorne (1994) [6:04]
Hommage à Villa-Lobos (1987) [11:21]
6. Climazonie [2:35]
7. Danse caracterielle et bachianinha [3:56]
8. Andantinostalgie [2:39]
9. Tuhu [2:07]
Trois Pieces Polyglottes [14:17]
10. Sols d’iêze (G sharp) (1992) [5:51]
11. Valse des loges (Green  Room Waltz)  (1998) [4:58]
12. Flying Wigs (Perruques volantes)  (1998) [3:22]
13. Lettre Encore (2000) [1:35]
Libra Sonatine (1986) [16:30]
14. India [5:50]
15. Largo [7:02]
16. Fuoco [3:31]
Elena Papandreou, guitar.
rec. 25-28th January 2004 at Länna Church, Sweden.
BIS CD 1366 [69:14]

 

 

In the world of music a “Rising Star” can receive no more meaningful praise and acknowledgement than that bestowed by an established, and revered fellow musician.

As the King’s throne was already permanently occupied, Andrès Segovia, in all his humility, was only able to allocate youthful John Williams the epithet,  [A new]-”Prince of the Guitar”

With no crown to protect the great Cuban guitarist and composer Leo Brouwer was less restrained and gave Elena Papandreou what must be the ultimate accolade - “If you want to hear music of the highest level of interpretation with poetical perfection you must hear E.P.” The greatest guitarist of his generation, Alirio Diaz said about her - “Her musicality through her refined technique cannot but stir up the imagination of her audience.”

This new release on the BIS label presents Greek guitarist Elena Papandreou. She plays the music of Roland Dyens including the world premier recording of “Triaela”.

Included in her discography is one other BIS release, featuring the music of Nikita Koshkin (CD 1236). She has also made two other recordings for Naxos. The works of Leo Brouwer are presented on Naxos 8.554553 and a compilation of several different composers, predominantly Greek, appears on Naxos 8.554001.

She was born in Athens in 1966 and studied guitar at the National Conservatory of Athens under Evangelos Boudounis, graduating with honours in 1985. Aided by a scholarship from the British Council, she then attended the Royal Northern College of Music, England, studying with Gordon Crosskey. In 1986 she obtained the Diploma in Advanced Studies in Musical Performance.

Additional tuition was received from Oscar Ghilia, Alirio Diaz, Julian Bream, Leo Brouwer and Ruggero Chiesa.

She has won first prize in three international competitions, Maria Callas (Greece), Gargnano (Italy) and Alessandria (Italy).

The programme presented here is entirely from the pen of French guitarist/composer Roland Dyens. Tunisian-born in 1955, Dyens is a distinctive figure in the world of classical guitarist/composer. He commenced lessons on guitar aged nine with Robert Maison who, although unknown internationally, instilled within him a passion for the guitar that now pervades his whole approach to playing/composing.  Continuing with Albert Ponce at the Ecole Normale de Musique in Paris, where he graduated with top honours in performance, he went on to win major international guitar competitions.

He also studied conducting and composition with Désiré Dondeyne and now teaches at the Conservatoire National Supérieur de Musique in Paris.

Dyens’ music is hard to categorize in simple “pigeon-holing” terms.  It is equally challenging to separate the many different styles that make up his complex musical personality. The wide expanse of Brazil is a predominant voice. Heitor Villa-Lobos, whose compositions for the guitar were only a fraction of his prodigious output, is a major influence, as is the Brazilian pianist and guitarist Egberto Gismonti, seen by many as a successor to Villa-Lobos.

Most of Dyens’ compositions require a virtuosic technique to even attempt them. This was not a conscious effort on the part of the composer but rather a case of the composer following his own creative muse.

On the review disc what may potentially distract some listeners through a degree of “sameness” is very thoughtfully avoided by careful sequencing of the compositions.

Roland Dyens is probably best known for his composition Tango en Skaï that occupies the first track - and what an attention-getter it is! This composition, begun in 1978 as an improvisation, was not published until 1985 since when it has become part of the repertory. It is a caricature of the Argentine tango - skaï in French means imitation leather. The player should aim for elements of humour, for maximum dynamics and minimum rubato. The rendition by Ms Papandreou is as good as I have heard and generates a penchant to further explore this music.

The next programmed item is “Triaela”[2-4] composed in 2001/2002 and dedicated to Elena Papandreou. From this group of three pieces, Clown Down [4] is a tribute to pianist/guitarist Egberto Gismonti. A first class guitarist, Gismonti had a love of guitars with extra bass strings, hence the inspiration for scordatura in this composition - an “E” bass string retuned down to “A”. After several more tracks of very contemporary pieces we arrive at an “oasis” of two compositions that have a more melodic structure, Valse des longes [11] and Flying Wigs [12]. The latter has echoes of Segovia’s “Remembranza”.

This is a fine recording in which both musician and music are complementary.  In every way imaginable Papandreou lives up to the fine tributes paid to her and it is hard to conceive better execution and interpretation of this music.

It is very common for the opinions of teachers to strongly affect the choices made by students when selecting an instrument. Disciples of John Williams gravitate toward instruments by Australian luthier Greg Smallman. Through ownership and recommendation to his pupils, Cuban/American guitarist Manuel Barrueco played a significant role in the establishment of Robert Ruck as a luthier of international repute.

On this occasion Ms Papapandreou plays a beautiful instrument by Jose Romanillos. It has been the practice of Romanillos to give each instrument a Spanish name, and this particular instrument was named La Añorada (1992). It may be purely co-incidental that over the past several decades Julian Bream has also played, almost exclusively, guitars by this same luthier.

Since its inception, BIS has established a reputation for recordings that incorporate the highest standards for true high fidelity reproduction. For some time they have included a number of fine classical guitarists in its catalogue. On the review disc the combination of an outstanding musician, a fine guitar and high recording standards allows insight into the music that, even at a live recital, is often not possible.

This new release is recommended listening. The informative and well-written notes are an added bonus.

Zane Turner

 

 

 

 



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