It is fair to say that in the guitar world, Greek guitar music is not as well-known as many other areas; why, I’m not really sure, but this large volume hopes to change that.
None of these composers were known to me, so it was with a clean slate that I opened onto the first page and the music of Minas Bogris (born 1970). His two works are tonal, with enough slight quirks about them that they keep your interest. The opening “Nocturne” has some lovely internal harmonies that are just that little bit different, and the “Waltz” that follows is an allegro con brio in A minor that has plenty of swing and bite in its notes that on occasions remind you of a less acerbic Usher Waltz.
Nickos Harizanos’ Two Ballads and Dance is another interesting trio of pieces that again manage to say things in expected ways and are fun to play. His other piece, “Dawn,” has the third string set to G# and begins wonderfully with an evocative floating arpeggio idea in 11/8, only spoiled (for me at any rate) by the long tremolo section that follows, which I thought a little uninspired.
By contrast, the music of Nikos Athanassakis is more dissonant, with Taygetus Mountain being in an allegro 7/8, with a three-voiced opening section that morphs into a violently strummed climactic close a little further on, replete with Bartok pizzicati. His Elxis is another unusual-sounding work in five movements which takes a little getting used to, as the harmony work is very individual and chromatic in places.
George Mavrodes (born 1967) describes The Journey as a fantastic dialogue between Manos Hadjidakis, Astor Piazzolla, and Dilermando Reis. So one finds elements of all three here in a piece that has much variety to it.
The final work in six sections is by Petros Tabouris (born 1964) who is a modern composer and player of traditional Greek instruments, such as the lyre, varvitos, and kitharis, for which this music was originally written. It makes for a fascinating conclusion to this intriguing book.
Greek Guitar Music
Minas Bogris, Nickos Harizanos,
Nikos Athanassakis, George Mavrodes, Petros Tabouris
(edited by Eva Fampas)
Les Productions D’Oz, 58 pp.