HADJIDAKIS Ionian Suite: excerpts. For a Little White Seashell: excerpts. Folkloric Paintings: excerpts. KALOMIRIS Nocturne. KONSTANTINIDIS 44 MiniaturesRead more on Original Greek Folk-Tunes. 8 Greek Island Dances. PSATHAS Waiting for the Aeroplane. THEODORAKIS Prelude No. 1. Finale. Zorba’s Dance
This affectionately well-played collection of solo Greek piano music makes no pretense to be anything else but a tribute to traditional folk-based nationalistic material. There is certainly a robust Greek avant-garde music scene, but it is not to be heard here. Pianist Mastroyiannis calls his selections “Greek pianistic gems,” forming a musical necklace. To be honest, with the exception of two composers who happen to be, respectively, the oldest and the youngest of the group, Manos Kalomiris and John Psathas, the music could have all come from the same pen. Not to say that the music is repetitive, but the folk motifs and dance rhythms tend to be recycled from work to work. This is a pattern that can be heard in folkloric music everywhere, including Russia, Hungary, Norway, Ireland, and America, to name some of the more significant bodies of such work. And how else to conclude such a collection but with the most famous of all such Greek melodies, the dance from the film Zorba the Greek, by Mikis Theodorakis, which might as well be the national anthem. Dino Mastroyiannis plays it all with authority and panache.
As for the aforementioned standouts, the lovely nocturne of Kalomoris is more akin to the cosmopolitan model of Chopin, even though the early 20th-century composer was one of the leaders of the modern Greek musical establishment, a founder of two major conservatories and the Union of Greek Composers. John Psathas, born in 1966, eschews any clichés in his introspective, slightly jazzy impression of a leave-taking at an airport, with the hum of the plane’s motor mimicked in an oscillating pattern in the left hand. The emotions he evokes are universal, even if the balance of this recital is derived from a specific ethnic vocabulary.