CBC Records SMCD 5237
UPC Code 0 59582 52372 8
Christos Hatzis / Symphony Nova Scotia:
DANCING IN THE LIGHT
Composer: Christos Hatzis
Rivka Golani, viola
Beverley Johnston, percussion
Suzanne Lemieux, oboe
Symphony Nova Scotia
Bernhard Gueller, conductor
Producer: Jeff Reilly
Executive producer: Randy Barnard
Recording engineer: Rod Sneddon
Assistant: Pat Martin
Mastering: Peter Cook
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DANCING IN THE LIGHT was recorded and mixed in Halifax and edited and mastered in Toronto. Pyrrichean Dances was commissioned by the Manitoba Chamber Orchestra for Rivka Golani and Beverley Johnston with grants from the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC), the Ontario Arts Council and the Laidlaw Foundation. Telluric Dances was commissioned by Symphony Nova Scotia for Suzanne Lemieux with funds from the Canada Council for the Arts and the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. Available in record stores in October 2006.
CBC Records Press Release:
Christos Hatzis has a wonderful ability to communicate directly to the hearts and minds of both performers and audiences. The pure accessibility of his work hides a remarkably complex arsenal of techniques that draw upon the full diversity of musical approaches that exist in the world today. Hatzis' music is inspired by early Christian spirituality, his own Byzantine music heritage, world cultures and various non-classical music genres such as jazz, pop and world. He is a believer in borderless culture and many of his most recent works bridge the gap between classical music and today’s popular music idioms. The two concerti on this disc are what Hatzis calls “his personal answers to the question of dance as an expression of life”. Both are earthy works, grinding down in Pyrrichean Dances to the gritty depths of hell’s own rhythmic intensity and flying high in Telluric Dances to the soul singing heights of what Hatzis calls “his continuing faith and hope in the potential of humanity”. Pyrrichean Dances is a double concerto for viola, percussion and string orchestra. The CBC funded composition was commissioned and features wonderful performances by RIVKA GOLANI and BEVERLEY JOHNSTON. The name for this four movement work is borrowed from the Greek word “Pyrrichios”, a war dance. Elements of war like aggressiveness and astonishing orchestrations pervade the first two movements. It settles into a moment of ravishing tenderness in the third, with a heart stopping solo by what seems at first like an impossibly beautiful human voice, only to discover it is a musical saw (of all things!). The fourth movement Hatzis says “spans all the way from atonal minimalism to disco aggression”, and leaves you breathless. Telluric Dances is an oboe concerto in three movements and the entire work draws heavily on traditional dance rhythms and modes from Hatzis’ native Greece. However, in an international twist of musical fate - he didn’t come across most of them until he played in Toronto’s Greek clubs in his early years as a composer. The piece makes intensive use of SUZANNE LEMIEUX’s incredible virtuosity on the oboe.The accompanying orchestra is the maritime treasure SYMPHONY NOVA SCOTIA conducted by the internationally acclaimed BERNHARD GUELLER. (For the complete Press Release in English press HERE).
Christos Hatzis possède une merveilleuse capacité à communiquer directement
avec le coeur et l’esprit des interprètes et du public. La pure accessibilité de
son oeuvre dissimule un arsenal complexe de techniques qui font appel à la
grande diversité d’approches musicales qui existent dans le monde d’aujourd’hui.
La musique de Hatzis s’inspire de la spiritualité des premiers chrétiens, de son patrimoine musical byzantin, des cultures du monde et des diverses musiques non classiques : jazz, pop et musique du monde. Plusieurs de ses plus récentes oeuvres comblent la lacune entre la musique classique et les idiomes musicaux populaires aujourd’hui. Les deux concertos figurant sur ce disque constituent « deux réponses personnelles à la question de la danse en tant qu’expression de la vie ». Il s’agit d’œuvres qui, dans les Pyrrichean Dances, descendent jusqu’aux profondeurs de l’intensité rythmique de l’enfer et qui, dans les Telluric Dances, vont jusqu’à atteindre ce que Hatzis appelle « l’affirmation de sa confiance et de son espoir continus dans les possibilités de l’humanité». Les Pyrrichean Dances sont un double concerto pour alto, percussion et orchestre à cordes. Financée par Radio-Canada, cette composition a été commandée par RIVKA GOLANI et BEVERLEY JOHNSTON. Son nom est emprunté au mot grec « Pyrrichios », une danse guerrière. En effet, l’agressivité et des orchestrations surprenantes imprègnent les deux premiers mouvements, suivis d’un moment d’une tendresse exquise avec un solo saisissant par une voix presque trop belle pour être humaine, celle d’une scie musicale! Le quatrième mouvement qui, d’après Hatzis, va « du minimalisme atonal à l’agression d’une musique genre disco » est à couper le souffle. Les Telluric Dances sont un concerto pour hautbois en trois mouvements, et toute l’œuvre s’inspire des rythmes de danse et des modes traditionnels de la Grèce, le pays natal de Hatzis. Mais très étrangement, il ne les a connus qu’en jouant dans les boîtes grecques de Toronto au début de sa carrière de compositeur. Ce morceau fait fortement appel à la virtuosité incroyable de SUZANNE LEMIEUX au hautbois. L’orchestre est la SYMPHONIE NOUVELLE-ÉCOSSE, sous la direction de BERNHARD GUELLER, chef d’orchestre de réputation internationale. (For the complete Press Release in French press HERE)
REVIEWS & COMMENTS:
The two concertos recorded here confirm Christos Hatzis' reputation as one of Canada's foremost composers, as well as an important voice on the international scene. Hatzis, who was born in Greece in 1953, was educated in the U.S and Canada, and went on to teach at the University of Toronto. He has a full grasp of the resources available to contemporary composers, as well an understanding of the folk musics of the near Middle East. Those resources, combined with a lack of any ideological musical agenda, have allowed him to develop a distinctive and recognizable musical voice. The folk influence is never far away, and a mysticism hovers over much of his music, but the independence and unconventionality of his thoughts prevent his music from being easily pigeonholed as predominantly folk-like or mystical. Pyrrichean Dances, a concerto for viola and percussion, and Telluric Dances, an oboe concerto, are notable for their colorful orchestration, mercurial eclecticism, and wide-ranging musical inventiveness. The scores are complex and engaging, with much to involve the mind and emotions. The concertos are dance-like, as the titles suggest, not always in a conventional way, but in their propulsive energy. The soloists -- violist Rivka Golani, percussionist Beverley Johnson, and oboist Suzanne Lemieux -- meet the virtuosic demands of the scores with panache and conviction. Bernhard Gueller leads Nova Scotia Symphony in energetic and committed performances. The CD is an excellent introduction to Hatzis' work, as well as a testimony to the vitality of new music in Canada. Stephen Eddins, ALL MUSIC GUIDE (UK).
Canadian composer Christos Hatzis first came to my attention in 1999 with an outstanding Centrediscs CD of electroacoustic music ("Byzantium"), also reviewed here. (Unfortunately, it now seems to be out of print.) Since then, I've heard several other discs of his music, and I've been increasingly impressed with his breadth and his imagination. Here's a composer who writes music that is unmistakably his own; there's no mistaking Hatzis with anyone else. Pyrrichean Dances is effectively a double concerto for viola, percussion, and orchestra, and similarly, Telluric Dances is an oboe concerto, although it too gives a prominent role to the percussion. Hatzis describes these two works as "complementary," and explains that they incorporate dance in the sense of "dance as an expression of life." There's a yin and yang quality here. The word "Pyrrichean" suggests conflict and war, and indeed, an aggressive streak runs through the Pyrrichean Dances. By the same token, "Telluric" is an adjective relating to the Earth, and there's an order, sanity, and, if you will, groundedness to this work which will be very satisfying to many listeners, I think. Specifically, the four Pyrrichean Dances ("Broken Mirrors," "Postcards from the (un)Holy Land," "Love Among the Ruins," and "Worlds in Collision") were inspired by catastrophic situations in recent world history (the Palestinian indifada, the 9/11 attacks on the United States), and by the idea of cultures in conflict . . . for example, the frictions between nationalism and the "New World Order." (Hatzis's musical representations of the latter in the last movement leave the listener with no doubt as to his opinions on this phenomenon.) Not only is Hatzis' writing for the two soloists incredibly evocative and virtuosic, his creativity with orchestral timbres has few parallels among today's composers. Pyrrichean Dances is one of those rare modern works that neither talks down to listeners, nor submerges them under waves of irony or postmodernism, yet still has the ability to pull them in. I think the same is even more true of the three Telluric Dances: "Snake Dance," "Eagle Dance," and "Dancing in the Light." (The latter gives this CD its overall title.) In this work, Hatzis draws upon inspiration from the Mediterranean region in general, including from his own Greek heritage. Here, the oboe sometimes serves as a proxy for instruments native to Greece and the Middle Eastern countries. The "Snake Dance," mysterious, exotic, and ever so slightly menacing, had me thinking of faraway market places where Western eyes seldom penetrate. The "Eagle Dance," in spite of the occasional brashness of its scoring, has tremendous dignity, and yet it moves forward with unstoppable power. "Dancing in the Light" is based on a folk dance associated with the Baltic region. Classical music has a long history of composers "dressing up" folk music, but Hatzis treats his materials with great freedom. Also, I must say that at 4:38 in this last movement, there is a passage which is so gorgeously "Hollywood," that I don't see how anyone could resist it. With its impact on the head, Pyrrichean Dances might bring down the house. Telluric Dances will almost certainly do the same, but through its actions on the feet and heart. Not since John Corigliano's Oboe Concerto has there been such a work, and truth to tell, I think that Hatzis' surpasses it. Pyrrichean Dances was commissioned for Golani and Johnston, the soloists heard here, and similarly, Telluric Dances was intended, at least in part, for Symphony Nova Scotia and Suzanne Lemieux, the orchestra's principal oboist. These are world-class performers, and Symphony Nova Scotia is truly an impressive ensemble....The engineering on this CD will beg you to turn up the volume, and you will be glad that you did. These works deserve to be heard and recorded frequently. Given the way classical music is today, it is unlikely that they will be given their due. Grab this CD while you can. Raymond Tuttle CLASSICAL NET (USA)
Since hearing Erotikos Logos by Hatzis in the mid-90's, I have fallen in love with this composer’s ability to blend the traditional and the modern, the harmonic and the discordant, the melodic and the atonal. In fact, I consider him one of the most melodic of modern composers. And it’s not because melodies dominate his music – even though Love Among the Ruins, his response to 9/11, features some neo-romantic flourishes á la Rachmaninoff. It is more because melody appears in his scores, even amid cacophony, like a flower blooming through a crack in concrete. In Hatzis’ music, the instruments sing, even when the song is a cry of anguish. The two dance cycles contained on this disc are vastly different in mood – the viola and percussion concerto Pyrrichean Dances give us the music of conflict and war; the oboe concerto Telluric Dances conveys sensual, sensuous celebration. The disc’s liner notes are an exception to the general rule – most composers are not great at explaining their music. Here, Hatzis offers thoughtful and helpful interpretation, proving himself to be not only a great composer, but also a talented writer. The rich texture of this music defies sparse instrumentation and the principals, as well as the orchestra, give great justice to the score, inspired seemingly in equal parts by Greek and Byzantine mystery as well as rather Canadian aloofness. This disc could conceivably convert those who proclaim “I hate modern music”. For those already converted, it confirms yet again, that we are fortunate to have a great master in our midst. Robert Tomas, THE WHOLE NOTE (Canada) May, 2007.
Symphony Nova Scotia’s Dancing in the Light, Music of Christos Hatzis, is the most remarkable recording in a remarkable category. It consists of two pieces only: the four-movement Pyrrichean Dances commissioned by the CBC for violist Rivka Golani and percussionist Beverley Johnston; and Telluric Dances commissioned by SNS [Symphony Nova Scotia] through the Canada Council and the CBC for SNS principal oboist Suzanne Lemieux. If you are unfamiliar with Hatzis’s contemporary music style, this recording is your chance to listen to one of Canada’s brightest lights at the height of his powers. Though contemporary, the brilliance of his writing, its imagination and scope, and the virtuosity of the performers on Dancing in the Light, created pandemonium in the Rebecca Cohn auditorium when the works were premiered there shortly before the recording sessions in West Chezzetcook’s St. Anselm’s Church in the spring of 2005.At the end of the evening, the Halifax audience leapt to their feet and roared their approval in a uniquely rousing endorsement of 21st century original Canadian music. You had to pinch yourself to believe you were hearing such enthusiasm. Stephen Pedersen, THE CHRONICLE HERALD (Halifax, Canada) February 17 2007
contemporary mix of styles
By STEPHEN PEDERSEN Arts Reporter The CHRONICLE HERALD (Halifax—Canada) December 14, 2006
Symphony Nova Scotia’s recording of Pyrrichean Dances and Telluric Dances by Christos Hatzis took place in St. Anselm’s Church in Chezzetcook shortly after the orchestra and soloists performed the works over two early spring nights at the end of the 2005 SNS season....It would be impossible for any recording to capture the electric buzz in the Rebecca Cohn on those two nights, which witnessed an unheard-of standing ovation for new music by a Halifax audience. The extraordinary performances by Golani, Johnston and Lemieux clearly impressed the listeners, as well they should. But St. Anselm’s Church has an almost ideal acoustic for digital sound...Recording engineer Rod Snedden and producer Jeff Reilly (SNS) took full advantage of it. On disc, the Telluric Dances (Snake Dance, Earth Dance and Dancing in the Light) immediately sound familiar, even on a first hearing. Folk dance rhythms knit together the stranger sonorities of modern oboe technique — panning the sound, bending the tones, playing more than one note at the same time (multiphonics). They are colourful and irresistible, evoking the Middle East, the Balkans, Turkish and Arabic music. Lemieux’s virtuosity is tamed by her extraordinarily beautiful sense of tonal colour, but when the going gets technical, she aces it with the skill of an Olympian. Paced by rhythmic complexity, the Pyrrichean Dances are more abstract than the oboe work, and also less immediately accessible, were it not for the fact that the orchestral effects are sensational. So is Golani’s playing, which is particularly rich in her long viola cadenza in the second movement (Postcards from the (un)Holy Land). The music is also more programmatic than the Telluric Dances. Broken Mirrors, the first movement, is organized chaos representing "the discontinuity of contemporary life,"" according to Hatzis’s program notes. Postcards was inspired by the intifada unrest in Palestine. Love among the Ruins is a response to the 9 / 11 victims of violence. (It features Johnston in a poetic lament on musical saw and later on trying to counter the increasing violence in the orchestra with soft sound of the marimba). The final movement, Worlds in Collision, pits Nationalism against the New World Order in which a plaintive tune on the viola is challenged by restless complexity. While the Pyrrichean Dances are jaw-dropping by virtue of the sheer scale and scope of Hatzis’s virtuosic scoring, they are almost too big to absorb. The impact of the Telluric Dances is quicker and more enduring in its effect. The orchestra, superbly directed by Gueller, whose understanding of what Hatzis had in mind went far deeper than the notes, plays compellingly and brilliantly.
I became enthusiastic from the first moment. Your compositions gave me back my believe in contemporary music.
M. G. Bad Ditzenbach-Gosbach, Germany.
What’s your favourite classical CD at the moment?
“Dancing in the Light” by Christos Hatzis