مشاهدة جميع الاصدارات : New CD Release

Anton Efendi
16-06-2008, 03:35
I'm pleased to announce to this forum the release of two new CDs by my friend Mavrothis Kontanis. The CDs, "Sto Kafesli Sokaki" and "Ksylini Kardia" (Wooden Heart) contain heartfelt renditions of rare and meticulously researched songs from early 20th c. Asia Minor and the Aegean (including some beautiful songs by Dalgas, Eskenazi, and an excellent piece by Panagiotis Vayndhirlis) -- real gems -- and a couple of original compositions from the classical Ottoman genres (Ussak Saz Semai and Nikriz Longa) and a terrific interpretation of Basmaci Abdi Efendi's Mahur Sarki (an incomparable version of which was recorded by Udi Yorgo Bacanos with Hafiz Kemal and Hafiz Sadettin. Kontanis shows clear influences from Bacanos, but has successfully managed to provide his original and very beautiful interpretation), as well as a couple of more modern, but still elegant, original instrumental compositions.

The CDs were recorded with Kontanis' usual suspects -- players with whom he's been playing for a while. Megan Gould's sensitive violin work is highlighted throughout the recording and shines in particular on tracks like the traditional Asia Minor song, Efe Mou.

Lefteris Bournias delivers his hallmark blend of alternating exciting and thunderous (witness his solo in Arapina mou Skertsoza), and warm and subdued clarinet sound that displays his tremendous feel, control and technical capabilities, including on a solo saba taksim track.

The percussions are handled by NY mainstay, Timothy Quigley, who displays his versatility playing a number of instruments, including wooden spoons and finger cymbals, providing a solid rhythmic accompaniment throughout.

Kanun is handled by Anastassia Zachariadou, who was visiting the US, I believe, and is not a regular member of Kontanis' circle of musicians. She is, nevertheless, a very welcome addition, delivering a fine performance, and, to my ear at least, showcasing different styles and influences, ranging to more Arabesque sounds as well, especially on Arapina mou Skertsoza.

A regular collaborator with Kontanis, including on the fantastic trio Aman Saki (http://www.amansaki.org/) (with Bournias), however, is Phaedon Sinis, who plays the kemence on this record (Sinis is also an accomplished kanuni). There's something about Sinis that brings out the very best in Kontanis and that is evident on three tracks: Ta Matia sou me Kapsane, Fonias tha Ginw, and Ths Ksenhtias o Ponos. Sinis commands the kemence and conveys amazing feel on top of his technical and stylistic mastery. A delightful example of the beauty of a Sinis-Kontanis duet can be heard in the concluding phrases of Ta Matia sou me Kapsane. The alternation between Sinis and Kontanis on Ths Ksenhtias o Ponos is haunting.

Last but not least is Kontanis himself, who has musically matured incredibly quickly since I first met him. Armed with a fantastic new ud, and apparently a killer mic, he produces both soulful warmth as well as crisp explosiveness. His technical development is wonderful to behold, and it has gone hand in hand with his inventiveness both in his original compositions, but also in his interpretation of the classics. Especially gratifying to me was his rendition of the Mahur Sarki. I know Kontanis to be a die-hard fan of Bacanos, and I've heard him play Tanburi Cemil Bey's Muhayyer Saz Semai almost note for note like Bacanos' brilliant version, so I was curious to see whether this would be a similar homage to his hero. Instead, he managed to make it completely his own -- while giving obvious nods to Bacanos throughout. He subtly introduces interpretations in certain key phrases that are unmistakably his, even as he shows his respect and admiration for Bacanos. This respect for his teachers and influences is very pronounced in the recording, without making it derivative. This is the hallmark of a musician who deeply loves and respects tradition and yet understands how to find his own voice as well.

Speaking of voice, Kontanis' vocals have also shown maturity on these CDs. His research and immersion -- and attempt to faithfully reimpart the original -- is in his work with the Dalgas material, while flashing Byzantine influences on other tracks.

All in all, this is a wonderful collection of music by a young and talented lead musician who's lucky to have found a set of superb collaborators who share and intuitively understand his passion and direction, and have the technical capacities to translate that musically. I look forward for the future growth of this genuine talent and hope to see more CDs soon (perhaps a classical fasil, where his partnership with Sinis can be given full rein?). Highly recommended listening.

The CDs can be purchased at:

iTunes Store