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CD: AmazonUS

Sergio ASSAD (b.1952)
Three Divertimentos (1996) [5:51]
Remembrance (from Summer Garden Suite) (1994) [3:39]
Sonata (1999) [16:06]
Farewell (from Summer Garden Suite) [3:08]
Fantasia Carioca (1994) 10:52]
Dreams (from Summer Garden Suite) (1994) [1:54]
Valseana (c.1984) [2:51]
Three Greek Letters (2000) 10:07]
Thanos Mitsalas (guitar)
rec. July 2008
CLEAR NOTE 74412 [54:52]

Experience Classicsonline

Sergio Assad is perhaps best known as a performer, most often appearing with his brother Odair as the Duo Assad or the Assad Brothers. His family being thoroughly musical, Assad learnt the guitar as a child and was soon a very proficient instrumentalist; by his early teens he was already composing. He studied classical guitar with Monina Tavora and later was a student of conducting and composition at the Escola Nacional de Música in Rio de Janeiro. His musical interests cross many of the conventional boundaries - he is just as likely to draw on the classical tradition as on Latin American models or, for that matter, on jazz or folk music. As composer and/or performer he has worked with a remarkable range of artists, including the jazz saxophonist Paquito D’Rivera, Yo-Yo Ma, the Turtle Island String Quartet and the American-Italian violinist Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg. Assad has made many successful arrangements for guitar (alone or in a chamber ensemble) of music by European composers, such as Debussy, Scarlatti and Rameau. He is, in short, a musician of wide knowledge and open-minded sensibility. Such qualities are well represented on this current disc.
The young Greek guitarist Thanos Mitsalas has recorded a large part of Sergio Assad’s original compositions for solo guitar. The CD comes with a booklet note by the composer and we can therefore presume that he approves of it - though he doesn’t appear to have been involved in the conception of the album, since the first sentence of his note reads thus: “Greek guitarist Thanos Mitsalas recently surprised me with this recording of a substantial part of my music written for solo guitar”.
Mitsalas seems thoroughly at home in this repertoire. The syncopations of the first of the three divertimentos appear to come naturally to him; so do the relative formalities of the Sonata (a particularly interesting work). Remembrance and Farewell were written as film music and get attractive and evocative performances. Fantasia Carioca, written to celebrate the city of Rio de Janeiro, is a striking tone poem, playfully (and thoughtfully) various in tempos and phrasing, and Mitsalas invests it with real feeling. Everywhere one senses a vitality of personal commitment and disciplined freedom in his interpretations.

Thomas Mitsalas (b.1972) is an impressive soloist and here he throws a rewarding light on some interesting compositions. He benefits from a recorded sound that is intimate without being over-close.
Glyn Pursglove 



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