GYPSY BALLAD CD

F. M. TORROBA: Suite Castellana. J. RODRIGO: Juntoal Generalife. D. BOGDANOVIC: Siroko; Sitni Vez. L. AFSHAR: DarenehJaan. N. KOLANIAN: Noubar Noubar. M. TADIC: Walk Dance. U. NEUMANN: Love Waltz. S. BODOROVA: Gypsy Ballad. E. CORDERO: Two Pices Afro-Antillanas. A. LAURO: El Negrito. H. VILLA-LOBOS: Valsa Concerto No. 2. G. H. M. RODRIGUEZ: La Cumparsita. A. VILLOLDO: El Choclo. I. SAVIO. Serées; Batucada.

Eleftheria Kotzia - Somm Recordings SOMMCD 0130

From personal experience hearing the recordings of the versatile Greek guitarist Eleftheria Kotzia I've always found that her selected recorded programmes are fresh, exhilarating and interesting; in short, they feature much varied material which explores the extremes of emotion. Take on this programme for instance the beautifully crafted Love Waltz, an emotive, tender composition written for the Swedish film ‘Vaxdockan’ in the 1960s by Ulrik Neumann. This follows Miroslave Tadic’s fascinating, highly rhythmic Walk Dance, where the music successfully attempts to emulate the movements of coppersmiths whilst creating their metalwork.

Many more contrasts follow: there are the brightly spirited two famous tangos from Rodriguez and Villoldo (although not credited in the CD sleeve information, I believe these superb arrangements are by UK guitarist Gary Spolding); the lovely flowing and highly tuneful El Negrito and an attractive tremolo work by Lily Afshar. Mingled in between these are stirring, rhythmic works from the Balkans, South America and Spain.

By far the most substantial work here is the title track composed by the Czech composer Sylvie Bodorova. Gypsy Ballad, dedicated to Maria Isabel Siewers, was inspired by the gypsies of Prague. This ten-and-a-half minute virtuoso guitar solo contains a multitude of guitar techniques in a piece with no time signature and explores the many nuances which the guitar is capable of, from delicate and emotional passages through to ones of extreme violence. This is a work which could possibly become a contemporary ‘standard’ if enough exposure is given to it.

Previous recordings by Kotzia have concentrated on one subject theme such as either Greek, South American or Mediterranean music. For this CD she has amalgamated these styles into one programme and has ended up with a very desirable and entertaining disc.

Throughout, Eleftheria Kotzia plays superbly well, her technique and interpretations are first class and it is clear she has spent a great deal of thought with regard to the phrasings and musicality of the compositions. The sound quality is excellent (recording engineer: John Taylor) and the disc comes with highly informative and well-written sleeve notes from Graham Wade.

Recommended.

Steve Marsh - 2014 Classical Guitar Magazine