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Dimitri NICOLAU (b. 1946)
Dances and Melodies op. 125 [26:35]
Zwei Goethe-Lieder op. 138 [10:44] Three Dances op. 190 [10:34]
Summer Dance [3:47]
In Memoriam Siegfried Behrend op. 102 [8:13]
Gertraud Erhard (sop)
Armin Korn, Christian Wernicke, Andreas Schumacher (guitars)
Das Badische Zupforchester/Arnold Sesterheim
rec. SW Studio, Karlsruhe. DDD
ANTES EDITION BM 31.9209 [61:22]

Greek-born Nicolau has channelled much of his creativity into writing for the mandolin and guitar - often for massed ensembles. This grew from a rejection of Western things in the period 1950-1970. The song-and-dance-inspired op. 126 is called Dances and Melodies and comprises five movements. Each carries a traditional title although strangely some are in French. Loosely speaking the feel of this music is comparable with a Russian balalaika ensemble with much delicious resort to massed tremolo. The penultimate movement is For Two Blue Eyes and is darker and almost threatening. The music has a slight Zorba accent and this is mixed with intimations of Turkey and further East.
The skilled Badische Zupforchester returns for the op. 138 Zwei Goethe-Lieder which pull off a lovely lilting mediation between lieder cantilena and the massed style we know from the op. 126 work. These two should make a stimulating and unpredictably disconcerting contribution to any Lieder evening. They set two of the most illustrious Goethe poems Gretchens Klage and Mignon.
The orchestra drops away in favour of three guitars for the Three Dances op. 190. Here the style is more oblique, almost Webernian but with crosscuts of Greek rhythmic fibre enlivened with much tapping on the bodies of the instruments. The short oblique Nocturnal Interlude is followed by a hummable feel-good Summer Dance which deserves the widest coverage. It recalls the writing of Rodrigo in the Concierto Madrigal.
Nicolau's In Memoriam Siegfried Behrend is strong and dissonant. It is full of urgent fantasy, hysteria and fear amid the tremolo and the quiet feral ululation of the swannee whistle.
To Western ears this music will seem abstruse and exotic. It is recommended for just these reasons.
Rob Barnett


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