Creation ‘Without Limits’
In a brief lifetime (Athens, 16 June 1950—Athens 22 October 1989), our friend Kyriakos Tzortzinakis made a significant contribution to the guitar and to contemporary Greek music in general. The present selection of his music for the guitar, compiled by his friend, fellow-musician and collaborator Kostas Grigoreas, besides being a welcome tribute, is also original in its conception and execution: the first recording (1985) of the composer-guitarist’s works, Works of Greek Composers for Guitar: Kyriakos Tzortzinakis (MOTIVO NM1023), forms the core of this new release. All the works were performed by Kostas Grigoreas, with one exception, the piece entitled Without Limits, rendered by the composer himself. However, the contents of the 1985 vinyl record are now enriched with new, very recent recordings made by Kostas Grigoreas, as well as with a selection of some extremely important historic recordings from the first performance of the composer’s works before an audience (Hellenic-American Union, 31 May 1978), which, as the present writer can testify, was generally acclaimed. Of course, music experts had been aware of Tzortzinakis’ creative gift long before that, the most characteristic example being Manos Hadjidakis’ enthusiastic Preface to Twelve Études for Guitar (Filippos Nakas, 1976) quoted here in full:
"The Twelve Études for Guitar by Kyriakos Tzortzinakis are a most agreeable musical surprise and an invaluable contribution to the field of Educational Music in this country. Despite his youth, Tzortzinakis, with great care and a wise progression of the pieces, gets the learner started with the traditional sound of the instrument in Études 1 and 2, cautiously proceeds to more harmonic writing with Études 3, 4 and 5, gets him through the technical difficulties of 7 and 8, to bring him to a more contemporary sound with Études 9, 10 and 11—the most important in the series—and conclude with 12, in an apotheosis of traditional sound, enriched with all the virtuosic experiences of the Études that preceded it. I congratulate Tzortzinakis for this work, and, even more, for the noble aims that he can realize with inspiration and spontaneous talent".
(Manos Hadjidakis, Oct. 1976)
Five out of these twelve Études (Nos. 3, 4, 9, 10 and 11) come from the 1985 release. Kostas Grigoreas recently recorded Nos. 5 and 6 (which, together with 3 and 4, form a unit entitled Miniatures), so that they may be included in the new disc. Finally, two further additions have been made: the Ode to the Paralogue (1978), a composition for three guitars (recorded using playback dubbing technique; Grigoreas plays all three guitars).
From the historic concert of 1978, presented by Notis Mavroudis, have been selected the following compositions: To Nellie (1978), played by Kyriakos Tzortzinakis himself—an intensely emotional work, since it was dedicated to his wife—Nocturne No. 2 (1977), interpreted by Kostas Grigoreas, and Étude for Three Guitars (1978), played by Kyriakos Tzortzinakis, Kostas Grigoreas and Dimitris Antonatos, all three being pupils of Dimitris Fampas at the time. The sound quality is poor because the only existing recording of that event is an amateur one.
I met Kyriakos Tzortzinakis in 1980 through Notis Mavroudis, when we were exchanging views and subsequently planning the famous TAR periodical (which recently reappeared online). These meetings blossomed into a close friendship; a few years later he announced to me his intention of making a first recording of his works, interpreted by Kostas Grigoreas, and honoured me with a request to write an introduction to it. As my views and my appreciation of both Kyriakos and his work have remained unaltered through the years, I quote that text exactly as I wrote it then; it provides an adequate commentary on the works of the old release:
‘In a world where daily routine is a plague and sound pollution has become a daily routine, the guitar continues its long, enchanting journey. Despite the adverse conditions that it frequently encounters in this country, it is making new friends every day and has become the most popular means of musical expression for the young.
Kyriakos Tzortzinakis, a young man himself, and a guitar-lover, is directly influenced by these everyday sounds and codifies them in his own unique manner. His rich, versatile work as a composer has been honoured and appreciated in many ways: his works have been published and have been played in recitals. Indeed, his composition Nocturne No. 3, included in the present release, was a set piece for the second cycle of the First ‘Maria Callas’ International Guitar Contest. Yet, despite the fact that his compositions meet our musical needs, they had never been recorded on vinyl until now. This first time brings his musical thought to life with clarity and grace. The sounds produced by the combination of Tzortzinakis the composer and Grigoreas the performer do not belong to one place, nor are they limited by time. From the romantic tone colours of the Nocturne, the transition to the more contemporary jazz-like style of Singing in Another Tune is made through the programmatic character of Dance of the Clocks and the Latin-sounding timbres of Mulatta del Rio. The Four Folk Images, on the other hand, evoke sounds and rhythms closer to our Greek roots. His Études, free from the pedantry of academic style, make up a musical collage that is sensitive, humorous and fresh. The contemporary sounds of rock music, the result of the composer’s conscious creative interest in this genre, appear in two separate works, Mediterranean and Without Limits, revealing, through the technique of the classical guitar, two different modes of interpretation, the latter being played by Kyriakos Tzortzinakis himself. All these compositions are derived from different genres, without being subordinate to any. Classical, folk and contemporary musical worlds coexist in perfect balance. The interpretations of guitarist Kostas Grigoreas bring out the characteristics of these works with clarity and precision, suggesting an overall concept that coincides with that of the composer. At the same time, they reveal the complex musical insight and experience of the guitarist, gifts that have been indispensable to the realization to this record.
George B. Monemvassitis’
To this commentary we shall only add the dates of composition: Four Folk Images (1975), Dance of the Clocks (1976), Nocturne No. 3 (1980), Singing in Another Tune (1984), Études (1976), Mulatta del Rio (1983), Mediterranean (1977), Without Limits (1978).
Looking back at the life and work of Kyriakos Tzortzinakis, we find that his vigorous, multifaceted creation (symphonic works, chamber music, compositions for solo instruments, for guitar or two guitars) had two peaks: one in his early period (1975-78) and the other towards the end of his life (1986-89), the latter characterized by developing trends and experimentation. It was as if he knew that he was running out of time, and during those last years he was composing incessantly and passionately. And, of course, ‘Without Limits’, without any of those things that block the horizons of thought and creative imagination. Because this is how our unforgettable friend lived and worked, and his music will live on to remind us of this.
(George B. Monemvassitis - Critic and Historian of Music - Athens, October 2006)
I was fortunate in having Kyriakos Tzortzinakis as both a collaborator and a close friend. But I had the misfortune to lose him early.
It is perhaps for this reason that I am not the right person to write a critical appreciation of his work. I can only say a few words, and report some facts. However, as a performer of his works, I shall try to show how important his music has always been to me.
Kyriakos and I grew together as guitarists: from the ‘hysterical acrobatics’ of endless hours of practising with exercises and scales, to such cerebral excesses as the belief that ‘if we listen to Bach for five hours, then the fingers will respond perfectly’.
But, as it turned out, my fingers seemed to be more pliable than those of Kyriakos. And the moment came for the roles to be divided between two people who shared the same ambitions: to play, to improvise and create music. He began to turn to the writing of music, and I to performing it. He was glad I played it so well and, at the same time, sorry that he could not do so himself. I, on the other hand, was proud of my interpretative skill and sorry that I had not composed those pieces myself! His inspiration was so spontaneous and his creativity so impetuous that I was convinced that, though I might have some ideas myself, true composition was only what Tzortzinakis was doing. So it was fated that I should ‘restrict’ him to the role of composer and he should ‘restrict’ me to that of performer.
I have lived long enough to be able to free myself from the fetters of my ‘role’ and move towards what I had always considered indispensable to my existence as a musician: the composition of music. My friend did not have the time to burst his own fetters by taming his fingers and moving on to the role of performer that he had dreamt of. That is why, every time I play his pieces, I feel as if I am also fulfilling his own ambition, and I always think of ‘how Kyriakos himself would have played this’.
The two Miniatures (3 and 4),live recording from a recital that I gave in 2005, are dedicated to him. I have interpreted then freely, almost as an improvisation, in the manner that Kyriakos might have played them today, with the ‘free’ fingers that he would have managed to acquire. Yet, if at some point it sounds a little like a lament, you have heard right. I still miss my friend, even after all these years…
The irreplaceable (due to the presence of the composer himself) analogue recording released in 1985 on vinyl and cassette, by Nikos Moraitis’ MOTIVO, forms the main body of the disc. Instead of supplementing this material with private studio recordings, I have preferred to use live tracks culled from my archive. So you will hear excerpts from the first public performance of works by Kyriakos Tzortzinakis (Hellenic-American Union, 31 Μay 1978). I spent many long hours at my computer trying to reduce the noise of a crowded concert hall, and to restore the quality of the sound that had been recorded on tape through two (almost accidentally placed) microphones. A new recording would have been less time-consuming. Yet I believe that it was worth it, both from a historical and a sentimental point of view.
In the case of the Ode to the Paralogue (Trio), a studio recording was inevitable, as I had to use the playback dubbing technique that enabled me to play all three guitar parts.
As I mentioned above, the two Miniatures have been transferred from a taped recital. Despite the fact that this too is an amateur recording made with microphones that were far from state of the art, the digital remastering proved easier this time.
In conclusion, I hope that this discographic material, which forms a representative sample of the work of Kyriakos Tzortzinakis, will become as important to you as it has been to me for so many years.
(Kostas Grigoreas - Athens, October 2006)
BIO AND REVIEWS FOR THE PERFORMER
Kostas Grigoréas was born in Athens. He has studied guitar and theory.
On graduating with a Distinction from the National Conservatory (class of Dimitris Fampas ), he continued his studies in England on a British Council scholarship.
He studied Guitar and Theory at the RNCM under Gordon Crosskey , George Hadjinikos and John Williams and was awarded the Postgraduate Diploma of the University of Manchester.
His activities include solo recitals, song accompaniment, composition and teaching.
He has collaborated with all the leading Greek composers and singers in concerts as well as recordings.
He has repeatedly given recitals and recorded for radio and television in most European countries, America, Africa and the Far East.
His discography includes works for solo guitar, voice and guitar and considerable participation in works of contemporary composers.
As a teacher he has created a school of distinguished guitarists.
He is the webmaster and editor of " TaR - online musical magazine, mostly on the guitar" ( http://www.tar.gr/ )
COMMENTS and PRESS REVIEWS:
MANOS HADJIDAKIS (composer):
“Kostas Grigoreas is one of the most gifted Greek guitarists of our time: modern in his conception of the guitar and deeply cultivated musically. The way he plays my songs from the Notebook, in Tassos Karakatsanis’ inspired transcription, is fascinating, spontaneous and appealing at the same time. I love to listen to him playing my songs. And this is not something that happens to me often. For this reason I strongly recommend that you listen to him carefully. Along with my music, you will enjoy an exquisite guitar sound.”
EVANGELOS ASSIMAKOPOULOS (guitar soloist):
“Kostas Grigoreas’ recordings of works for solo guitar or song accompaniment are a model of quality, sensibility and consummate skill.”
HUBERT KAPPEL (guitar soloist - professor at the Musikhochschule, Köln)
“Both as a guitarist and a composer, Kostas Grigoreas is one of the most serious figures in the field of classical guitar”
PERICLES KOUKOS (composer):
"Kostas Grigoreas is an eminent guitar soloist.As a creator of works for the instrument he has served for years, he has developed a personal and direct idiom, which brings out both the virtuosic and the timbral qualities of this instrument..."
NOTIS MAVROUDIS (Guitarist - Composer about the album "Grigoreas plays Tzortzinakis")
Grigoreas’ interpretations have been established as the most authentic, since his friendship with the composer was the best source of ideas. In short, these recordings are perfectly reliable material that reflects an important period, and is still meaningful in our days.
GEORGE LEOTSAKOS (‘Express’, Athens)
“Grigoreas held us spellbound with the nobility of sound, the plasticity of phrasing and rhythm, and a wealth of fine shades of expression…”
GEORGE E. PAPADAKIS (‘Eleftherotypia’, Athens; review of "Guitar in the Greek Mode")
“Kostas Grigoreas, a top guitarist with a rich career, and a collaborator of important Greek composers, is one of those ‘fortunate’ musicians who are not ‘hindered’ by problems of technique in the full execution of the finest shades of expression and can interpret a work exactly as they feel it.”
COLIN COOPER (“Classical Guitar” magazine-London)
“A brilliant performance… the high accomplishment of this gifted guitarist.”
VASSILIS ANGHELIKOPOULOS (‘Kathimerini’, Athens)
“The ‘fascinating’ sound of a guitar, according to M. Hadjidakis.”
PHOEBUS ANOYANAKIS (‘Avgi’, Athens)
“At the core of his recital lay Bach (Second Lute Suite), which he rendered in consummate pre-classical style, beautiful sound and enviable technical skill… Benjamin Britten’s Nocturne, opus 70, was admirable in its ‘staging’.”
“GUITAR” MAGAZINE – London
“Excellent technique and sound.”
MARIA MARKOULI (‘Ta Nea’, Athens; review of "Guitar in the Greek Mode")
“…with his musical instinct and sensibility, the guitar plays a leading role of narrator.”
ALEXIS VAKIS (‘Diphono’ magazine)
“The technique and sound of the soloist are once again beyond question, in a record that is one of the most significant creative contributions to its genre.”
GEORGIA LAIMOU ('e-go.gr')
"Kostas Grigoreas possesses gifts that I greatly admire in a guitarist: power, economy, clarity, precision and a profound sense of rhythm, pouring forth with the spontaneity of natural charisma."