SMARO GREGORIADOU - Reinventing Guitar II

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SMARO GREGORIADOU - Reinventing Guitar II - Smaro Gregoriadou (Guitars) - 013491341927 - Released: June 2012 - Delos DE3419

1} Domenico Scarlatti - 5 Harpsichord Sonatas
2} Johann Sebastian Bach - Prelude, Fugue and Allegro in E-flat major, BWV 998
3} Johann Sebastian Bach - Toccata in E minor, BWV 914
4} George Frideric Handel - Air and Variations "The Harmonious Blacksmith"
5} George Frideric Handel - Chaconne No. 2 in G major, HWV 435
6} Analytical presentation of all tunings

In my review of guitarist Smaro Gregoriadou's first CD titled Reinventing Guitar reviewed on this page, I may have given the impression that the sound quality of the various instruments at her disposal was the key factor which made that recording so enjoyable. True, the wonderful instruments built by guitar-maker Yorgos Kertsopoulos, played on her first CD and again on her new recording Reinventing Guitar II, certainly deserve praise, but in the end, it's Gregoriadou's amazing musicianship that brings these guitars to life.

One phrase from her own liner notes which caught my attention is as follows: "Bach spoke often of the performance of a piece as requiring gravitas. The effort to reveal, and - if possible - transmit the energy of this inherent spirituality through interpretations rooted in the mother sonorities is the essence of my approach." She finds and uses each guitar's unique nature to project the music's character and purpose. The clarity and separation of each musical line and the perfect dynamic balance of the counterpoint under her fingers are uncanny. Her musical approach to each individual composer is tailored to each one's style. Under her fingers Scarlatti is spirited, Handel is noble, and Bach is fluid. Her technique is so solid that it doesn't even factor into the big picture. All the pieces on this CD were arranged by Gregoriadou herself for double-course pedal guitar or single-stringed scalloped pedal guitar, and she did not try to cover-up any difficulties inherent to the music in her transcriptions. Some of the fingering work she does would make lesser guitarists cry for mercy. Some of these works are hard to play in their original versions, with both hands in front of you on the keyboard, therefore they must be a tremendous challenge on a fretted instrument, but Gregoriadou makes it all seem so easy. The musical lines flow naturally, even in the thorniest passages. All the embellishments, trills and double mordents are present, true to the baroque style, and at times you could swear that you are listening to a harpsichord.

The CD includes a bonus track on which, through the use of examples, Smaro Gregoriadou herself explains the characteristics of the different types of strings and guitars used for this wonderful recording. Highly recommended for all guitar enthusiasts and baroque music fans alike.

Jean-Yves Duperron - August 2012