Today Smaro Gregoriadou posted the following and I wish her congratulations:
Delighted to receive such a fantastic review for my recent #Delos release "El Aleph" with 20th and 21st c. guitar music, written from among USA's more respected music critics, Mr. Raymond Tuttle:
Interest in this CD is divided between the repertoire and the instruments on which it is played. Gregoriadou uses several different guitars in the main part of this CD, as well as different tunings—meaning, in this case, not just frequency of “A” (it is not always A=440 Hz), but also the relationships of the strings with one other. Barrios's Danza Paraguaya No. 1, for example, is played on a pedal guitar with all of its strings tuned five semitones higher than usual. One can hear the difference immediately, although one might not recognize why. I feel that Gregoriadou is a guitarist's guitarist. She does things with her instrument that probably make her peers think, “Hey, why didn't I think of doing that?” Gregoriadou's El Aleph, which closes this CD, makes use of #OpenSourceGuitars, the innovative guitar ensemble associated with the National University for Music in Trossingen, Germany. Gregoriadou's writing, in this last work, reveals that, as a composer, she also is an innovator: this music puts guitars together in unusual ways, and interesting games are played with harmony and rhythm.
As for the other works, this is a highly varied program that is of excellent quality, overall, and that is free from cliches. I've been listening to guitar discs for ages, and several of these composers (to say nothing of their works) were new to me. Sean Hickey's Tango Grotesco is grotesque only in a subtle way (“the tango rhythm—in a way a caricature of one—establishes itself in thick, strummed chords,” the composer writes), but that doesn't make it any less appealing. This work's rich and often unexpected harmonies attract the listener's attention. Nikita Koshkin's brief Toccata is an exciting perpetual-motion piece suggested by the Biblical depiction of birds falling dead to the earth at the world's end. (By the way, this is an image that film director Lars von Trier stunningly realized near the start of his film Melancholia, and I never understood what it referred to until now.) #RenéEespere's Tactus Spiritus achieves a rapturous conclusion unusual for guitar music. Gregoriadou has done a fine job of putting together pieces that work well on their own, and that also complement one another.
As always, Gregoriadou plays with superb technique, style, alertness, and interpretive imagination. Sometimes guitar recitals turn a little too mellow for their own good. Gregoriadou keeps the interest high, however, and this disc would be an excellent acquisition for anyone who wants an adventurous new guitar disc. Raymond Tuttle