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Enjoyment all round

Greek guitarist Eleftheria Kotzia in Derby,
reviewed by MIKE WHEELER


It was an excellent idea to throw in this superb recital as a freebie for full subscribers to the classical concert series at Derby's Assembly Rooms. I hope this sort of thing will become a regular fixture.

Greek player Eleftheria Kotzia is one of the established stars of the international classical guitar scene, and she effortlessly had the audience in the palm of her hand for a whole evening of largely unfamiliar music. What came across particularly was her erring instinct for placing the music's character. In Mikis Theodorakis's Four Epitaphs, for instance, her playing was by turns lively and soulful, finding a delightful vein of humour in the last of them.

Evangelis Boudounis is himself a guitarist, and his Three Spring Songs explore a wide range of playing techniques alongside rhythmic intricacy and more atmospheric writing. Every detail of this inventive work was vividly projected. Similarly, in Golden Lyra by the Italian composer Carlo Domeniconi, Eleftheria Kotzia captured the music's changing moods to spell-binding effect.

Eleftheria Kotzia
Eleftheria Kotzia

The evening ended with the guitar on what most people would probably regard as more like its home ground -- in Latin America, with tango rhythms crisp and alert, and a tremendous sense of enjoyment all round.

Copyright © 13 September 2005 Mike Wheeler, Derby UK


The concert reviewed took place on 8 September 2005 at the Guildhall, Derby, UK.

Eleftheria Kotzia will be at the Uppsala International Guitar Festival in Sweden, 5-8 October 2005 and will give a solo recital in the Alfvensalen, 8.30pm on 7 October. On 9 December 2005, 7.30pm, she gives a solo concert at the Purcell Room, London, UK.

Born in Northern Greece, Eleftheria Kotzia studied guitar at the National Conservatory in Athens, the Conservatoire Nationale Superieure in Paris and, with support from the British Council and the Hellenic Foundation, at the Guildhall School of Music in London.

Her first recording, The Blue Guitar, which featured the première recording of Tippett's Guitar Sonata, achieved worldwide critical acclaim and was selected as 'Critic's Choice Recording of the Year' by Gramophone Magazine. She won two scholarships to participate in masterclasses held by Julian Bream, and won first prize in the Sixth International Guitar Competition in Milan.

Until recently, guitar music was associated almost exclusively with images of Spain and South America, but contemporary composers are now being inspired by the rich heritage of Greece, with typical themes, rhythms, mythology, history and traditions inspiring Tavener, Duarte, McGuire, Domeniconi, Vasquez, Boudounis, Bogdanovic and Dodgson, all of whom have dedicated works to Eleftheria Kotzia.

She played the guitar part in the world première of Fall and Resurrection by John Tavener at St Paul's Cathedral in London - a major musical event to celebrate the Millennium in London, which was televised by the BBC and recorded for CD and DVD by Chandos.

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