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Gypsy Ballad

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Music from Armenia, Macedonia, Spain, the Balkans and Persia

Eleftheria Kotzia, Guitar

Armenia, Macedonia, Spain, the Balkans and Persia all appear on this disc in a beguiling melée of diverse rhythms and melodies. The disc opens with Suite Castellana, written by a non-guitarist, the Spaniard Moreno Torroba. It consists of Fandanguillo, a lively danced based on folksong followed by Arada, an evocation of the Spanish countryside and finally Danza, which was premiered by Torroba's friend André Segovia in Madrid, in 1922. Czech composer Sylvie Bodorova's music has been performed world-wide with commissions from many countries. Her Gypsy Ballad, an extended work of considerable virtuosity, was inspired by the gypsies of Prague. Also included are the famous tangos La Cumparsita and El Choclo from Argentina and Uruguay — the only two arrangements, alongside original salon music from Brazil, the infectious rhythms of the Afro-influenced music of the Caribbean and the purity of Venezuelan song.

Kotzia reminds you of the magic of the guitar: A superb disc, neatly tying together the lyrical and the fiery.” Gramophone April 2007

Her skill, unfailing beguiling tone and fluency”  The Times

Asked what inspired her to choose the repertoire for her recording of Gypsy Ballad, the well-known Greek guitarist Eleftheria Kotzia explains the significance of this enchanting new release from SOMM:

“It was the folkloric element, expressed by the special, intimate sound of the guitar which attracted me to the repertoire chosen for this recording. In a way, I feel as though I’ve come full circle since recording The Blue Guitar (including the first recording of Tippett’s Guitar Sonata), Mediterraneo (works by composers inspired by Greek music, which also reflect my Greek roots), La Guitarra Latina (South American music) and Fuoco (Mediterranean music). These, in turn, inspired me to research and record music which pulled all these diverse strands together in repertoire containing folkloric, ethnic elements from both the old and the new world. This is wide-ranging repertoire of little known works which I hope will be both stimulating and entertaining. It expresses the voice of the contemporary classical guitar and it’s music that I love playing.”

Eleftheria Kotzia – biography

Described by USA Review as doing for the Greek soul what Flamenco does for the Spanish, Eleftheria Kotzia has toured regularly both with orchestras and as soloist in Europe, Canada, the United States, South America, North Africa, Australia, New Zealand and the Far East. Born in Alexandroupolis, Northern Greece, Eleftheria studied guitar at the National Conservatory in Athens, Conservatoire National Supérieure in Pris and at the Guildhall School of Music, london. She won first prize in the 6th International Guitar Competition in Milan. Among her teachers were Julian Bream, Alexandre Lagoya and Timothy Walker.

Ms Kotzia has broadcast both for radio and television, including the BBC and WNYC and given recitals at prestigious concert halls including Carnegie Hall, new York, the Herbst Theatre, San Francisco, the Wigmore Hall and the South Bank Centre, London, among others.

Ms Kotzia has an impressive list of recordings to her credit. Among them the first recording of Tippett’s The Blue Guitar, selected by Gramophone magazine as Critics Choice. Tavener’s only solo guitar work, Chant, was also premiered by Eleftheria in a special adaptation made for her by the composer. She was selected to represent Greece in London’s Millennium Celebrations: String of Pearls and played the guitar part in the first performance of Tavener’s Cantata, Fall and Resurrection in St. Paul’s Cathedral, London.

An important initiative has been her encouragement of non-Greek composers to write music for her. Her uniquely pioneering work has resulted in works by Stephen Dogson, Carlo Domeniconi, John Duarte and Edward Mcguire, each influenced in their different ways by the richness of the Greek musical heritage. Other works dedicated to Kotzia include Levantine Suite by Dusan Bogdanovic and works by the Chilean composer Edmundo Vasquez. In 2009 she also premiered and recorded Rene Espere’s Visiones, Tre Clavi in Crucem for guitar and string orchestra which the Estonian composer had dedicated to her.

Eleftheria Kotzia teaches at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama and gives master classes around the world. She is a frequent judge in international guitar competitions. She has been Course Director of the International Guitar Festival in Ligoure, France, since 2007.

Impressive, life-enhancing, a breath of fresh air.” Critics Choice, Gramophone

A wizard-strong, sensitive and lyrical player with great musical instinct“. Soundboard – USA

Her artistry captivated the discriminating New York audience.” Carnegie Recital Hall – Arts and Culture.

On This Recording

  1. Suite Catellana: Fandanguilllo
  2. Suite Catellana: Arada
  3. Suite Catellana: Danza
  4. Junto al Generalife
  5. Six Balkan Miniatures: Široko (Wide Song)
  6. Six Balkan Miniatures: Sitni Vez (Tiny-Knit Dance)
  7. Dareneh-Jaan /Aziz-Joon
  8. Noubar Noubar
  9. Walk Dance
  10. Love Waltz
  11. Gypsy Ballad
  12. Two Pieces Afro-Antillanas: Nana para una Negrita
  13. Two Pieces Afro-Antillanas: El Cumbancherito
  14. El negrito
  15. Valsa Concerto No. 2
  16. La Cumparsita
  17. El Choclo
  18. Serões
  19. Batucada