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Keaton
American Record Guide, February 2007

Kontaxakis was the winner of the 2005 Francisco Tarrega Competition and thus appears on Naxos's Laureate series. Like most prizewinners, he has impeccable technique, gorgeous tone, and a balanced interpretive approach. It remains to be seen whether he develops a recognizable, unique voice, but this recording is quite promising.

The program is heavy on miniatures, but at least they are presented as unified sets of miniatures. The Clerch is a world premiere, given the subtitle 'Homenaje a Tarrega', so one is not surprised at the salon-like character of the works. They are charming, though they don't remain in the memory long. Martin's Four Short Pieces are long established in the repertory. Kontaxakis can't match the timbral invention of Bream's first performance, but he does catch some of the work's lyricism that Bream never conveyed. I've never enjoyed Krenek's suite, which seems to ramble. Besides, the juxtaposition of Krenek and Tarrega is just jarring.

Ponce's third sonata is the meatiest work on the program, and it is beautifully played. The structure of this work can be tricky to convey. It's easy to get lost in the modulations and development of the thematic structure, but Kontaxakis never loses his way.

For me the high point was another world premiere, Tarrega's 'Fantasy on Themes from La Traviata'. This sort of work relies very heavily on the sensitivity of the interpreter to recall the essence of the opera's emotions, and Kontaxakis is simply magnificent. I wept when he played 'Addio del Passato', feeling Violetta's despair. Only in the closing 'Sempre Libera' was I slightly disappointed, when the guitarist failed to distinguish the offstage voice of Alfredo interrupting Violetta's thoughts; the themes were blended.

But that is a small quibble. Overall, this is a lovely recital, with moments of real excellence, and one hopes for a bright future for this young Greek guitarist.



Keaton
American Record Guide, February 2007

Kontaxakis was the winner of the 2005 Francisco Tarrega Competition and thus appears on Naxos's Laureate series. Like most prizewinners, he has impeccable technique, gorgeous tone, and a balanced interpretive approach. It remains to be seen whether he develops a recognizable, unique voice, but this recording is quite promising.

The program is heavy on miniatures, but at least they are presented as unified sets of miniatures. The Clerch is a world premiere, given the subtitle 'Homenaje a Tarrega', so one is not surprised at the salon-like character of the works. They are charming, though they don't remain in the memory long. Martin's Four Short Pieces are long established in the repertory. Kontaxakis can't match the timbral invention of Bream's first performance, but he does catch some of the work's lyricism that Bream never conveyed. I've never enjoyed Krenek's suite, which seems to ramble. Besides, the juxtaposition of Krenek and Tarrega is just jarring.

Ponce's third sonata is the meatiest work on the program, and it is beautifully played. The structure of this work can be tricky to convey. It's easy to get lost in the modulations and development of the thematic structure, but Kontaxakis never loses his way.

For me the high point was another world premiere, Tarrega's 'Fantasy on Themes from La Traviata'. This sort of work relies very heavily on the sensitivity of the interpreter to recall the essence of the opera's emotions, and Kontaxakis is simply magnificent. I wept when he played 'Addio del Passato', feeling Violetta's despair. Only in the closing 'Sempre Libera' was I slightly disappointed, when the guitarist failed to distinguish the offstage voice of Alfredo interrupting Violetta's thoughts; the themes were blended.

But that is a small quibble. Overall, this is a lovely recital, with moments of real excellence, and one hopes for a bright future for this young Greek guitarist.



Select Australia
Select Australia, January 2007

A new star in the concert guitar constellation.

In a past life, Kontaxakis may have been a wandering flamenco gypsy. His biographical notes make no such claim, but there is a strong Spanish influence in Guitar Recital, albeit, from the more sombre side of that fiery tradition.

In this life he hails from Athens, often performs with chamber ensembles and orchestras in Europe, and has won many glittering prizes, including being the first Greek to take first prize in the International Francisco Tárrega Guitar Competition.

On this solo recital, along with the works by Ponce, Khachaturian, Tárrega , and Krenek, is the world premiere recording of Cuban composer Joaquin Clerch's Preludios de Primavera (Preludes of Spring). This masterly homage to Tárrega consists of seven short pieces written over a few months in 2005, nearly 14 minutes in total.

From the slow, expressive opening with sparse melodic phrase cut with flamenco-esque strumming, it travels through virtuosic riffs and romantic gestures (homage also to Tchaikovsky) and draws inspiration from a sad poem by Pablo Neruda.

Kontaxakis is an extraordinary guitarist, closer in style and sound to Segovia and Bream than to volcanic Paco de Lucia, and far less reserved than John Williams. He has a powerful technical palette in terms of speed and control but his style is subtle.

On Prelude, which opens Frank Martin's Quatre pieces breves pour la guitare, for example, fast runs dissolve in single-note phrases that reverberate in oceans of space.

A superb set.



Select Australia, January 2007

A new star in the concert guitar constellation.

In a past life, Kontaxakis may have been a wandering flamenco gypsy. His biographical notes make no such claim, but there is a strong Spanish influence in Guitar Recital, albeit, from the more sombre side of that fiery tradition.

In this life he hails from Athens, often performs with chamber ensembles and orchestras in Europe, and has won many glittering prizes, including being the first Greek to take first prize in the International Francisco Tárrega Guitar Competition.

On this solo recital, along with the works by Ponce, Khachaturian, Tárrega , and Krenek, is the world premiere recording of Cuban composer Joaquin Clerch's Preludios de Primavera (Preludes of Spring). This masterly homage to Tárrega consists of seven short pieces written over a few months in 2005, nearly 14 minutes in total.

From the slow, expressive opening with sparse melodic phrase cut with flamenco-esque strumming, it travels through virtuosic riffs and romantic gestures (homage also to Tchaikovsky) and draws inspiration from a sad poem by Pablo Neruda.

Kontaxakis is an extraordinary guitarist, closer in style and sound to Segovia and Bream than to volcanic Paco de Lucia, and far less reserved than John Williams. He has a powerful technical palette in terms of speed and control but his style is subtle.

On Prelude, which opens Frank Martin's Quatre pieces breves pour la guitare, for example, fast runs dissolve in single-note phrases that reverberate in oceans of space.

A superb set.






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6:25:31 PM, 25 July 2014
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