CULTURE

Naxos Greek Classics step into the world

The most recent title to join the Greek Classics series of recording label Naxos is dedicated to Loris (Lykourgos) Margaritis. Thanks to the Hong Kong-based company and its global distribution, an international music-loving audience will now get the chance to become acquainted with the Greek composer?s music, not to mention the talents of up-and-coming pianist Apostolos Palios, who interprets the works.

Margaritis?s music legacy has much to gain from this venture, especially when you consider that the composer, who was born in Aigio, Achaia, in 1895, remains largely unknown in his home country. When Thomas Mann heard him play the piano in Munich, Margaritis was only 8 years old. So impressed was the German writer by the youngster?s performance, that Margaritis became the inspiration behind Mann?s short story ?The Infant Prodigy.?

Following studies in Berlin, Margaritis taught at Salzburg?s Mozart Summer Academy during the summertime and at the State Conservatory of Thessaloniki in winter. In 1931, his ?Epic Symphony,? a work based on Homer?s ?Odyssey,? was presented at the Vienna Opera. During WWII, in Greece, he was persecuted by the Nazis, who destroyed many of his works. He died in Athens in 1953.

The Naxos album features various compositions Margaritis wrote for the piano, ranging from earlier to more mature works, including ?Greek Rhapsody,? ?Youth,? ?Verses? and ?Greek Pastorals? — in the latter, influences from traditional Greek music are instantly identifiable.

While defined by technical perfection and virtuoso nonchalance, Palios?s take, above all, brings along a sense of musicality which adds unique character to each piece he interprets.

The project is the record company?s 10th album to be dedicated to Greek music. In a way, the series make up for — albeit in a selective manner — all that the miserable Greek music reality deprives composers and artists of. By creating an opportunity for Greek composers? works to cross borders, Naxos also allows the world to appreciate the talents of a new generation of Greek interpreters and ensembles.

Also part of the Naxos Greek Classics series are works for piano by Dimitris Dragatakis, beautifully rendered by Lorenda Ramou, as well as saxophone soloist Theodore Kerkezos, accompanied by the Thessaloniki State Symphony Orchestra under the baton of Myron Michailidis, interpreting works by Mikis Theodorakis, Manos Hadjidakis and Nikos Skalkottas, among others.

For more information, visit www.naxos.com.