DIMITRIS DRAGATAKIS: Nostalgia; Butterfly; Little Ballad; Piano Sonatinas 1 and 2; Antiques; Anadromes II; Etudes 1 and 2; Inelia; Monologue No. 4 – Lorenda Ramou, piano – Naxos

by | Nov 19, 2008 | Classical CD Reviews | 0 comments

DIMITRIS DRAGATAKIS: Nostalgia; Butterfly; Little Ballad; Piano Sonatinas 1 and 2; Antiques; Anadromes II; Etudes 1 and 2; Inelia; Monologue No. 4 – Lorenda Ramou, piano – Naxos 8.570789, 68:39 ***:

Dimitris Dragatakis (1914-2001) is a noted Greek composer (this is part of the Naxos “Greek Classics” series) whose style got cemented in the atonality of the postwar period of the 20th century. Like so many other formidable talents, it seems a shame that his legacy is doomed to be consigned to the also-rans of academic halls and “remember him?” festivals. For with few exceptions, most of the music on this disc is of a dry and audience-unfriendly substance that may beckon for a few moments, but hardly inspires repeated hearings. Pianist Lorenda Ramou, a friend of the composer, is also one who has done the job of editing his complete piano music (which is what we have here), and one must also say that her performances are about as radiant and affirmative as one could ask of this contrary music.

So why do I call his talent “formidable”? Because on a few of these pieces, notably the world premiere Nostalgia, Butterfly, and Little Ballad (all composed before 1949), we hear some hints of a tonal world soon to be abandoned, and what we hear is most attractive. Near the end of his life, Dragatakis evidently decided to evolve back to the future with his Inelia (1997) and Monologue No. 4 (2001), each pregnant with the thoughts and musings of a new type of tonality that forges ahead yet is still catchy and alluring. I wish I had heard this type of style in his more severe and atonally-embraced Sonatinas or Etudes, but I must confess that those leave me cold.

Again, this is a bit tragic, as for so many composers trapped in that artificial aesthetic. But one must commend Ms. Ramou for her efforts, as the music is worth saving, much worth hearing, and as for the rest—well, no one is perfect, and atonal-aficionados will probably find much to enjoy in this well-recorded disc.

— Steven Ritter 
 

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