THEODORE ANTONIOU (b.1935): Entrata, 10 Aquarelle, Sonata, Op. 7, 6 Syllables, Prelude and Toccata, Inventions and Fugue, Op. 4/1, Inventions, Prelude and Fugue, Op. 4/2, 7 Rhythmic Dances, Synaphes.
Catalogue Number: 04T062
Label: Grand Piano
Description: Antoniou seems to be an intriguing composer of real quality, whose prolific output in many genres appears to be poorly served in recordings. His output has traversed various diverse styles, all grounded in a search for a personal modern idiom, while being constantly inflected by Greek traditional music and theatre; in this respect he resembles Skalkottas. Greek rhythms recur throughout these pieces, and sometimes very modal melodies (but not always). The very earliest works, from 1958, show the composer experimenting with and moving just beyond the bounds of tonality. Some of the Aquarelles are much more tonal than others; these are diverse character pieces which as a set explore different meters, including irregular compound ones characteristic of Greek dances. The succinct four-movement sonata is neoclassically proportioned and not really atonal, but the highly skilled contrapuntal inventions and fugues from around the same time show the composer experimenting with serial organisation of material, though the results are so characterful as to be very accessible. There is no piano music from the 1970s, when the composer seems to have moved into more experimental territory, apparently influenced by Zimmermann and Christou. When he returned to the piano in 1983, he produced Entrata, the largest, most original piece here, which combines explosive piano virtuosity extending to cluster scales and chords with modal Greek dance melodies introduced by ingenious percussive and plucked effects inside the piano. Had he produced a significant body of work of this type he would probably be hailed as a major piano composer of the 20th century; but he didn't. There is nothing else from the 1980s and 90s except the little Prelude and Toccata, a study in resonance followed by a motoric perpetuum mobile, and his last piano work (unless he produces something else in his old age), Synaphes of 2001, is half the length, though it contains similar polystylistic and pianistic exuberance; and the Rhythmic Dances from the previous year are appealing but uncomplicated studies in Greek style. Konstaninos Destounis (piano).