GEORGE KONTOGIORGOS (b.1945): Dancing with Centaurs for Soprano Saxophone and Piano, Concertino “Testosterone” for Alto Saxophone, Piano and Strings (The Orchestra of Colours; Miltos Logiadis), Ringtone for Alto Saxophone and Piano, Night Walk for Solo Alto Saxophone.

Catalogue Number: 09V057

Label: Naxos

Reference: 8579047

Format: CD

Price: $12.98

Description: Dancing with Centaurs is a suite of ten pieces in which Kontogiorgos evokes various myths from Greek mythology about the half-man, half beast creatures, which he uses as a metaphor for the higher and animalistic nature of humankind. The composer’s primary gift is for melody, which he amalgamated from Romantic lyricism, popular ballad styles, and folk idioms of the southern Mediterranean. His idiom is thoroughly tonal, with pentatonic and modal inflections, and the pieces have a great deal of picturesque charm, though perhaps a surprisingly relaxed view of the drama of some of the brutal and warlike myths. The concertino Testosterone is named for that hormone's effects on mood, affecting vigor, aggression, and more tender emotions. Stirring melodies alternate with post-minimalist energy, in a slightly mild-mannered but enjoyable piece. Ringtone is not the only composition to expand on the once-ubiquitous Nokia cellphone chime; Marc-André Hamelin's Valse Irritation d'après Nokia gets a performer's light-hearted revenge on the dread interrupter of concerts. Kontogiorgos brings the wheel full circle by revealing the origin of the irritating little phrase in the Gran Vals for solo guitar (1902) by the Spanish classical guitarist and composer Francisco Tárrega, and then producing an amusing little set of variations on it. Night Walk is a nocturnal soliloquy with the feel of a jazz improvisation; eventually a traditional Greek melody is revealed as its underlying material. Stathis Mavrommatis (saxes), Christina Panteli (piano).


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