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Manolis KALOMIRIS (1883-1962)
Complete Works for Solo Piano
Ballade No. 1 in E minor [4:36]
Ballade No. 2 in A flat Major [4:29]
Ballade No. 3 in E flat minor [4:56]
Rhapsody No. 1 [6:06]
Rhapsody No. 2 Chant ā la Nuit [8:02]
5 Preludes [10:28]
Nocturne [5:15]
Patinada (Serenade) [3:35]
Ya Ta Hellinopoula, Volume 1 [6:20]
Ya Ta Hellinopoula, Volume 2 [5:49]
Ya Ta Hellinopoula, Volume 3 [4:56]
Anatoliki Zografia [5:11]
Olivier Chauzu (piano)
rec. Studio 4’33, Pierre Malbos, Ivry-sur-Seine, France, 2016
GRAND PIANO GP748 [69:43]

The composer Manolis Kalomiris has been described as the father of Greek music, born in Smyrna and educated in Constantinople before going on to study piano and composition in Vienna. Kalomiris was an admirer of Wagner and a position in Russia brought him into contact with the music of Rimsky-Koråsakov whom he also came to greatly admire. Influenced by Rimsky-Korsakov’s idea of a Russian school of music, on his return to Greece Kalomiris sought to create a Greek national school in Athens, one which would create a new music based on the recent developments of western European music tempered with the sounds of authentic Greek folk music and literature. His early compositions were greatly influenced by the music prevalent in Vienna during his studies whilst his later music reflected the music he discovered during his many travels as well as that of his homeland.

The disc opens with his three Ballades, originally composed in 1905 and 1906, the first and third were later revised in 1933 and 1958 respectfully, they were a result of his Viennese training and were seen by Kalomiris as his opus 1. Strongly romantic in nature these three short pieces show the composers love for poetry in the way that they are programmatic and based on poems, the third being the first piece to be based on a Greek theme.

These are followed by the two Rhapsody’s of 1921, here the music is more individualistic in nature, the first is the most dramatic of the two, whilst the second and in many ways the most attractive introduces us to a form of Greek impressionistic music. Subtitled the Song of the Night, the second Rhapsody is a charming invocation of nature, with its charming rippling effects something Debussy would have been proud of.

In the 5 Preludes of 1939 Kalomiris is clearly moving towards a more folk inspired music, with these short pieces depicting the different aspects of his homelands music as well as of his travels to the near east and of Islamic music, somewhat reminiscent of Szymanowski’s forays into orientalism.

With the Nocturne (1906 rev, 1908) and Patinada (1907) we once again return to music of his early period with the music being more traditionally romantic than even the Ballade’s, with the influence of Chopin being to the fore.

The three books of Ya Ta Hellinopoula or For Greek Children, presents eleven short pieces, some less than a minute long, they contain a collection of pieces of differing complexity and difficulty composed throughout the composers lifetime and which he used in the various educational establishments he set up and ran. These pieces, whilst being of various grade, show great ingenuity and various influences, with many not originally designed as teaching pieces they are attractive and interesting works.

The earliest and final piece on this disc dates from 1902, Anatoliki Zografia paints an ‘Oriental Picture’ in music, whilst not as formed as the orientalism depicted in the 5 Preludes this is still an attractive short work.

The excellent playing of Olivier Chauzu is committed throughout, he has a nice touch in these unusual pieces, hopefully bringing them to a new audience, and they deserve it. The booklet notes are excellent, in that they give a good introduction to both the composer and all aspects of his music. Good sound too, with the Steinway D being captured in all its glory.

Stuart Sillitoe

Previous review: Rob Barnett



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