CD REVIEW: Tania Giannouli Ensemble - Transcendence



Tania Giannouli Ensemble - Transcendence
(Rattle Records D059. CD review by Henning Bolte)


Greek pianist Tania Giannouli, is a musician in her prime. Her music, released by a record label from Wellington, New Zealand, is deeply drenched in Byzantine heritage. Just a few notes can bring about mood shifts between joy and sorrow, grace and rage, bewilderment and acquiescence, and the ambiguous points in between. Giannouli creates a spaciousnesss which fosters the unfolding and transcending of specific atmospheric moods imbued by sophisticated rhythmical patterns. Her music, far from providing pleasant or pleasing escape, generates an intense perception of reality. Its cinematic qualities go hand in hand with a deep commitment to expressive communication. Giannouli is an experienced composer of music for theatre and film/video. In that capacity she collaborates with the Public Space group of video artists and renowned Greek writer Evgenios Aranitsis.

Giannouli leads her listeners through a wider span of vivid musical imagery. From the solitude of The Weeping Willow and the quieting effect of irregularly moving waves in the chant-like The Sea to the glistering streaks and percussive urgency of Sun Dance, from the dynamic albatross-like soaring of The Time Will Come and the rebellious Faster Than Wear to the Shenandoah-like stomping and waltzing From Foreign Lands and from the cacophonous and derailing Mad World to the finally centring adagio of Untold at the end of the cycle. The music is inherently beautiful and dignified, and is void of prettification, glossing and empty experimentalism. It can be sensed instead that it is reflecting sudden shifts and disruption, loss of certainty, conflicting feelings, and outbursts.

Giannouli gives all this excellent shape, together with a competent and passionate ensemble of musicians comprising reedist Guido de Flavis, cellist Alexandros Botini and the percussionists Solis Bark and Giannis Notaras.

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