KONSTANTIA GOURZI (b.1962): Sacred Poems, Op. 34 for String Quartet, Byzantine Psalmist, Ney and Piano, Flammenarie, Op. 44 for Byzantine Psalmist, Tarhu and Piano, Kastalía, Op. 35 for String Quartet and Saz, Verbindungen, Op. 32 for Byzantine Psalmist, Tarhu and Piano, Sappho-Lied - Homage à Kurtág, Op. 12 for Byzantine Psalmist and Piano, Süd-Wind - eine Erzählung 1 and 2, Op. 43 for Solo Ney.
Catalogue Number: 12M083
Description: A Greek composer with a strong sense of tradition, active in contemporary performance practice (as pianist and conductor), Gourzi seeks to bring together harmoniously elements of musics from the east and west. The eastern elements in the vocal works are the style of singing - the Byzantine chanting style of the Orthodox church - and the use of traditional instruments of Greece and the middle east. The string quartet and piano material in the cycle Sacred Poems mainly play within the modern western concert tradition, but in an extraordinary coda to the work they are transformed into a rhythm instrument, fully absorbed into the colorful folk tradition suggested by the presence of the ney and the unmistakable middle-eastern modality of the melodic lines earlier in the work. In Flammenarie, ?the piano seems to have been seduced into a timbral and melodic world of the re-created historical stringed instrument, the tarhu, and by the time the undulating ornamented melismas of the vocal part emerges, the illusion of a fully integrated vocabulary is complete. The accompaniment of this style of singing with conventional piano accompaniment in the Sappho setting - an earlier work, recently revised - points to the stylistic divide between the two, yet provides a satisfying setting for the ornamented vocal line. The saz blends guitar-like with the quartet, here providing accompanimental drones, drumming and modal chord figuration (and in one movement, a plaintive cello melody), in four of the six movements of Kastalía, attractively melodic and characterful episodes of vivid local color. Apollon Musagète Quartet, Vassilis Agrokostas (psalmist), Michalis Cholevas (tarhu, saz, ney), Christian Elsässer (piano), Konstantia Gourzi (piano, conductor).