This CD is based on works composed for the pianist’s MMS (Mediterranean Miniature Sketches) project and on pre-existing material selected by her. During that project a total of 70 works were publicly performed in various Mediterranean countries, the majority as world premieres.
Each of the 32 miniatures narrates its own unique story, yet as a whole they synthesize a descriptive work that combines images, feelings and tone colors to form the pianist’s grand narrative. Erato arranged the pieces in this order so that they fit her story, since the Mediterranean – a common reference point for all composers from Greece, Italy, Spain and Portugal – served both as motive and inspiration.
Aurora (2019) by Elli Zacharopoulou (b. 1959) is a tender piano poem, originally written for small orchestral ensemble as part of a larger work entitled QUASAR beyond. One easily senses the film-like quality of the music here.
Between the silence (2019) by Greek-Canadian Constantine Caravassilis (b. 1979) hovers between sound and silence. “Music can sometimes be a small parenthesis standing between vast pillars of silence.”, notes the composer. “Such is the art of man who seeks to see the shadows of time and space in the beyond.”
The play of shadow and light gestated the next piece, Of the shadow (2018) by Lazaros Tsavdaridis (b. 1977): “A shadow on a wall, a static but very intense moment, when the summer light attempts to disperse it”, as the composer notes.
The mirror (2007) is a set of five miniatures by Sofia Kamayanni (b. 1971) inspired by “It is me”, a poem written by Greek poet-psychologist Eirini Protopapadaki. Vagueness, detection, conflicts, shadows, contradictions, sense: each miniature follows a path related to these terms. Erato selected the third of these miniatures, and listeners can attempt to trace their own path.
Scia [Traces] (2012) was composed by Italian Caterina Venturelli (b. 1977). “Gazing at the stars”, she comments, “an indefinite sensation pervades me, one in which opposing sentiments are reconciled. I have recalled this allusive state in seven pieces for piano, including Scia, a sparkling page dedicated to the Milky Way, streaked with jazzy veins”.
Silent landscapes (2021) is a set of three miniatures which lends the title to this CD. Stathis Gyftakis (b. 1967) dedicated his Op. 110 to Erato Alakiozidou after the six-month-long second quarantine. Expressing the composer’s need for inner peace and reflection, these pieces share a common minimalistic and meditative mood albeit achieving their effect through different means. Tracks 11 and 20 complete the set.
Young Italian composer Nicola Elias Rigato (b. 1991) is represented through five works written in 2020-2021. Two, of these, are dedicated to Erato. Rigato has this to say about Still (2021): “In the midst of total chaos, a very simple and very precise command emerges: STAY HERE. The plain power of recalling oneself, in search of an internal space. The piece is built around stable, granite chord successions, in search of open sonic horizons. It is not hot or cold, dark of bright, it is the search for that neutrality, beyond opposites. We can remember Rumi’s words: ‘Beyond the idea of right and wrong there is a field, I will wait for you there’.”
Isolation (2021) is the third of 4 Emotions, Op. 15, by Grigoris Polyzos (b. 1986). “Do we have control over our emotions, or do they control us?” This is the question posed by the composer through his work. And he continues: “How do we deal with unpleasant emotions or unpleasant thoughts? I have tried to translate some of these emotions into music, in the hope that people who experience them will know that they are not alone.”
The little boy and the cook named Josephine (2003) by Gyftakis belongs to a set of five miniatures composed for the theatrical adaptation of “Deep Blue, Almost Black,” a short story by Greek Academician Thanassis Valtinos. As Gyftakis states, “I tried to reproduce the tender yet melancholic memory of a distant childhood from a corresponding scene in the short story. It is one of my most beloved and heartfelt works”.
Philippos Tsalahouris (b. 1969) composed seven piano pieces entitled Landscapes (2008) as his Op. 66, in which he ventured “to seek the source of piano sound”. Treading the borders of “minimalism and abstract impressionism”, Tsalahouris claims that his work “formulates an idiom which guides our thought in terms of a philosophical treatise”. Erato performs the first piece from this set.
ThImIsI [Recollection] r.a.l.f. (2022) is the title of another piano poem by Zacharopoulou (tr. 12), inspired by the loss of a dear friend and the memories left behind. Its symmetrical form and geometric structure are mitigated by the composer’s instruction for interpretative freedom “with simplicity and originality”.
Rigato’s Collapse (2020) “was thought of as a forgotten language emerging from a sunken island, collecting lexical fragments from our western heritage. What happens is that, as in the fracture between different cultures and languages, different harmonies are called to coexist. In this piece, for example, the right and left hands play with two different tones, in search of a possible and pantonal coexistence”.
With Noon in dazzling light (2021) Fani Kosona (b. 1969) delivers “a short, momentary, virtuosic impression of a summer noon in the Mediterranean dazzling light, which shines aggressively, with a sharp and edgy quality, hitting hard and reflecting on everything, mixing colors, sparkling on the water and erasing contours. This image is represented by hazy rhythms proportionally notated, flocks of sounds that emanate in high speeds, reverberations from harmonics and asymmetric accentuations scattered around.
Piano piece (2019) by Anastassis Philippakopoulos (b. 1969) belongs to a set of short monophonic works based on the same tetrachord (semitone – augmented second – semitone). “Because of its obvious connection to Eastern Mediterranean music”, the composer points out, “the piece wishes to invoke – and begin a dialogue with – an internalized memory. Holding the right pedal throughout allows each phrase to echo and the sound to be left suspended for quite a while, so that every new phrase is born just before the previous one dies away”.
Portuguese Francisco Monteiro (b. 1959) wrote his Paraphrase on fado song ‘Tive um coração perdì-o’ (2020) in “an attempt to approach the musical world of the fado, a song of simple melodies and harmonies entwined with embellishments of an acid character, where the text and the inflections of the voice reflect a profound and embodied sentimentality, an almost morbid sensuality”. Monteiro believes that “fado is a way to feel, to say – to pray – any melody, where the symbolism of the text and its feelings are the key; the presence of the singer’s body, eyes closed, black shawl on her shoulders, and the sound of the Portuguese guitar provide the ultimate enchantment”.
Light Blue (2019) by Konstantinos Stogiannidis (b. 1976) is infused with a romantic spirit. In the words of its creator, “This work features a blending of modality (consisting of five- and six-tone arpeggiated chords) with elements of minimalism in the melody, which unfolds in the high register of the piano”.
Also inspired by the sea is Summer Breeze (2019), a composition by Maria Christina Krithara (b. 1954), “which draws inspiration from the wrinkles caused by the summer breeze on the calm water”. It was commissioned and premiered by Erato in Italy.
Erato’s choice is Allegorie [Allegory] (2003), the last of Sechs Gedanken [Six Thoughts] written sporadically in 2002-2003 by Minas Borboudakis (b. 1974), a Greek composer who lives and works in Munich. “The music moves on two separate plains”, states Borboudakis, “each entering an allegorical monologue like two hermetic, repeating motifs which refuse to communicate. The last chord, however, resolves the allegory”.
In Shreds (2021), Rigato explains that “we find ourselves lost in the labyrinth of history, with a language that is the synthesis of a thousand old stories. We are veterans of continuous sunsets, in which language has destroyed itself trying to surpass itself to represent the ‘beyondness’. What remains? These are the remnants of language, a feeble melodic atom, a three-note lyric stump, which reverberates invertebrate for a walk through derelict tones. What tells what? Only you know this”.
The waltz of the snail (1990s) is one of nine children’s pieces of educational purpose by Gyftakis, commissioned with the aim of familiarizing young students of his conservatory with contemporary music. In this instance, melodic and harmonic chromaticism is cleverly disguised under the cloak of the popular dance rhythm.
Sara Carvalho (b. 1970) is another Portuguese featured on this CD. Her one-minute-long piece Haiku from the sea (2019) was commissioned and premiered by Erato, who gave only one parameter: that the music be inspired by the Mediterranean Sea. The idea of a haiku, a short Japanese poetic form, came to Sara’s mind, who then asked her teenage daughter, Sophie Foley, to write one. Sophie delivered this: The sea breaks, alone, I see the dawn of morning light, sparkling, it awaits me.
Also aphoristic in nature is Fiaba (2012) by Italian Raffaele Longo (b. 1967) – a postmodern homage to Anton Webern’s terse yet incisively expressive style. Longo “conceived and composed the piece in one night”, as he recounts, “under the strong emotion evoked after reading a Mediterranean fairy tale, namely the tragic story of Hero and Leander” where both lovers are drowned, their bodies washed ashore in an embrace.
Rigato’s Wonder drowns (2021) “is a musical portrait of the sea”, where the composer imagines “this infinity of deep water that unites us all, that kisses the coasts of very distant (and very close) cultures. The sea, with its constant trembling, tells us about this surface that can be furrowed and swallow us at the same time”.
Tu, come goccia che nuoti nel suono [You, like a drop swimming in the sound] (2022) by Italian Carla Rebora (b. 1973) is yet another miniature dedicated to Erato. “RE for ERato” is Rebora’s subtitle, as the middle D (Re) of the piano drones on to honor the dedicatee.
Menelaos Peistikos (b. 1995) is the youngest composer featured on this CD. Le persone al sole [People in the sun] (2019) was influenced by Edward Hopper’s eponymous painting. Peistikos writes that “The sun initially gives an intense, bright and beautiful atmosphere to the faces of the people. If one looks closely, however, the sun eventually reveals the truth; a cold, mysterious atmosphere that makes the people seem alienated from their surroundings, as if soulless”.
Sea breeze (2019) by Christos Ntovas (b. 1989) attempts to emulate the effect of this natural phenomenon. Ntovas creates “a small structure, which initially unfolds through steep lines and later returns with faster and more linear material”.
With Tres Haikus [Three Haiku] (2013), Spanish-Catalan Benet Casablancas (b. 1956) claims “to convey contrasting gestures, moods and musical affects – capturing the fleeting moment of epiphany – with the immediacy of the calligraphic stroke and the concentrated catharsis permitted by its conciseness, liberated and exempted by any ulterior motives”.
Finally, in Left alone (2020) Rigato writes a “lyric etude for the left hand”. Composed during the pandemic, the double meaning of the piece’s title becomes clear: to be played only with the left hand or being abandoned. “The left hand”, according to the composer, “must in fact find within itself the right, the completeness that allows it to sing the impermanence of everything. And here the ‘weak’ hand takes charge of the narration, finding real strength”.
Erato Alakiozidou belongs to the generation of artists who are closely involved in promoting contemporary music repertoire. Since 2000, she has been actively engaged in performance or recording projects centering on the works of Greek composers of the 20th and 21st centuries.
Distinguished Greek and foreign composers have dedicated works to Erato, which she then presented in over 150 world premiere performances. Her repertoire includes a wide spectrum of classical and contemporary music. She has given over 100 premieres of works by Greek composers in her country and abroad. Concurrently, Erato continues to play a decisive role in organizing new and novel music initiatives in Greece.
After initial studies in her home country, she continued her quest in Belgium, Germany and Switzerland with great artists and pedagogues, such as Roberto Szidon, Julia & Constantin Ganevi, Nicolas Astrinidis. Greek and international music critics have praised her overall artistic activity, and she has been honored with the Hellenic Union of Theatre and Music Critics’s Award.
She maintains a multilevel activity in various sectors of contemporary creation: contemporary music performance, repertoire-related research on topical units, educational programs, research, pedagogical projects, editing, essay writing, and artistic project planning-production-management. In recent years, she has focused her interest on contemporary composers’ chamber music repertoire.
Erato lives in Thessaloniki, Greece, yet she is a frequent traveler to participate in concerts, festivals, music projects and competitions abroad. She has recorded for Protasis Productions, Subways Music, Ankh Productions and Odradek Records (since 2017). This is her first project with DaVinci Records.
For more information visit her website: