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In Memoriam
Astor PIAZZOLLA (1921-1992)
Estaciones Poreñas (1965-70) arr. Sergio Assad [19:27]
Milonga Del Angel arr. B Benitez [5:06]
Gerald MARKS (1900-1997)
All of Me (1931) [3:36]
Jerome KERN (1885-1945)
All the Things You Are arr Roland Dyens [3:46]
Antonio Carlos JOBIM (1927-1994)
Felicidade (1958) arr Roland Dyens [4:16]
Sergio ASSAD (b.1952)
Farewell (1993) [3:13]
Thomas ATHANASELOS (b.1990)
Aurora [3:42]
In Memoriam [4:59]
Atonement [3:03]
Thomas Athanaselos (guitar)
rec. 2017, Larissa, Greece
Private release

There’s a somewhat sombre look to this disc from Greek guitarist Thomas Athanaselos. The In Memoriam title relates not to the programme itself - there’s nothing overtly funereal about that – but to the fact that it’s dedicated to his late teacher and friend, Thodoris Charos. Athanaselos was born in Larissa in 1990 graduating from Charos’ class in the city’s conservatory in 2010. He has a wide portfolio of interests, including composition, and is a teacher at his alma mater.

In this recital Astor Piazzolla, Roland Dyens and Sergio Assad feature prominently. There are also a trio of compositions from the soloist and a couple culled from the Great American Songbook, to create a balanced-looking programme. It’s recorded in an unashamedly forward acoustic in which Julian Bream’s famous description of ‘gym shoes’ applies, with inevitably prominent shifts sounding loud and clear. But it also allows one to appreciate the soloist’s pliant and stylish playing.

Piazzolla’s Estaciones Porteñas is rhythmically vital, jazzy but with elastic lyricism and a complement of body taps in Verano Porteña. The expressive quotient of the Winter movement is projected with clarity, precision and colour and the result is warm and affecting. This arrangement for solo guitar was made by Sergio Assad whose own Farewell comes from his Summer Garden Suite and here this contemporary guitar giant has crafted a real slice of melancholia. Athanaselos’ own trio of works reflect impressions and influences across the years. Aurora rolls over a pedal, a flowing romance with what sounds like an accordion and strings background (it’s not mentioned in the booklet). The pacy opening of In Memoriam contrasts strongly with the lyric B section with its own string wash; very foot-tapping when the opening theme returns, despite the title. Jobim’s Felicidade, in this arrangement by Dyens, is lithe and fast, as ever, whilst Milonga del Ángel reinforces the guitarist’s stylistic affinities with the Latin American muse. The springy, light-hearted All of Me is no soap opera lament, and the running patterns in this performance of All the Things You Are inaugurate and maintain a sassy piece of work by the Greek guitarist.

This brightly recorded album has plenty of enjoyable things on board.

Jonathan Woolf

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