Greek guitarist Dimitris Kotronakis (b. 1973) is making a play for international recognition with this new CD, which actually is his fourth. Distributed by Clear Note (clearnote.net), purveyor of many things guitar-related, Echomythia is available for $14.95 through their website.
Echomythia is one of those genre-busting guitar recitals, but it isn't heavy-handed about it. The repertory is from the past century, and nominally classical, although it has been heavily seasoned with jazz and world music (primarily Latin and Brazilian) influences. On the other hand, it would be stretching a point to argue that Django Reinhardt was a classical guitarist. Still, Kotronakis is not the first classical guitarist to draw inspiration from Reinhardt; Julian Bream also felt the pull of the Belgian-born gypsy. Kotronakis's rendition of Nuages, probably Reinhardt's most famous tune (here cleverly arranged by Roland Dyens) is less carefree than the original. Behind its cool, it clearly is on the prowl!
From the very first track, it is obvious that Kotronakis has a tremendous technique. His playing is clean, and his rhythms are ultra-crisp. At the same time, his command of legato playing is excellent, as can be heard in the "Andantinostalgie" movement from Dyens's Hommage à Villa-Lôbos. His agility is shown off in the Rak's Prestissimo, based on Romanian gypsy music, where he is incredibly precise. Agility also is on display in Kotronakis's own arrangement of Flight of the Bumblebee. He can be seen playing this encore with inhuman brilliance on YouTube, in two different clips – one dating from 1997 – and both are worth checking out.
Kotronakis is Greek-educated, and is continuing his studies at the University of Athens, where he is earning a Ph.D. in musicology. He is too talented not to become known the world over, though, and one of the major labels should sign him up immediately. On second thought, Clear Note has done such a nice job with the production values on this CD – everything from engineering to artwork – that Kotronakis could hardly do better elsewhere.
In short, I was delighted by the variety and the quality of the music on this CD, and more than delighted by the way in which it was performed by Kotronakis. This CD is worth making a little extra effort to acquire.
Copyright © 2008 by Raymond Tuttle