Apostolos Paraskevas | Phoenix

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Classical: Twentieth Century Classical: Romantic Era Moods: Featuring Guitar
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Phoenix

by Apostolos Paraskevas

Phoenix, is the first recording since Apostolos Paraskevas’ recovery of Focal Dystonia in 2009. He fully recovered in 2013. A personal evocative musical language, characterized by rhythmic verve, melodic grace, dramatic gestures. Also Barrios, Albeniz,etc
Genre: Classical: Twentieth Century
Release Date: 

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  Song Share Time Download
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1. Mountains of Stowe: I Stand Strong
3:21 $0.99
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2. Mountains of Stowe: And the Sky Is the Limit
4:16 $0.99
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3. Julia Florida
3:45 $0.99
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4. Escape
5:14 $0.99
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5. Asturias
6:48 album only
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6. Scenes from the Life of Death: Awakening of Mournful Feelings on Arrival at Work
6:27 album only
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7. Scenes from the Life of Death: A Visit at the Playground
3:23 album only
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8. Scenes from the Life of Death: Sad and Ungrateful Feelings After the Visit – What a Life!
4:20 album only
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9. Una Limosna por el Amor de Dios
4:13 $0.99
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10. Dream Not of Today
5:33 $0.99
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11. Valse Criollo
2:50 $0.99
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.

ABOUT THIS ALBUM


Album Notes
Program Notes

Mountains of Stowe, 2015 is a two-movement piece commissioned by and dedicated to guitarist Adam Holzman. The first movement I Stand Strong reflects the serenity and isolation someone might feel when surrounded by the mountains of Stowe, Vermont in the U.S.A. The second movement …and the Sky is the Limit written in an ABA cyclic form is full of rhythmic gestures starting with the combination of 7/8, 2/4, 5/8 and 3/4 in the first four measures that leads to a slow movement as an attempt to sing a Greek song in those vast territories and to portray the thankfulness of being there and experience the presence of the amazing beauty of it. When asked why he commissioned this piece, Holzman replied, “My wife and I spend our summers in Stowe. We love being there, celebrate the summer and spend time outside. We have family and friends who come and share a few days with us and Apostolos is a dear friend who has been coming for several years. We talked about the possibility of him writing a piece that reflected Stowe and the mountains.” When asked about the piece, Paraskevas responded, “I always write music for the person behind the instrument, so while composing every note of this piece I had Adam in my mind; the way he plays, the way he breathes the way he lives his life. The work is written for the mountains of Stowe through Adam’s eyes and heart and I am the vehicle who translates it.”
Julia Florida is a work by Paraguayan composer-guitarist Agustín Barrios Mangore (1885-1944), who earned the title “the Chopin of the Guitar” because of writing inspired romantic music. It was conceived in 1938, which was a difficult time for him, with his declining health and it was dedicated to his pupil Julia Martínez. Quoting John Williams: “... as a guitarist/composer, Barrios is the best of the lot, regardless of ear. His music is better formed, it's more poetic, it is more everything! And it's more of all those things in a timeless way. Julia Florida is a Barcarola - a style of music sung by the gondoliers in Venice, Italy or any music that is created in this style. Typically in 6/8 meter, it simulates the motion of the boat moving through the waves of the water with the rhythmic rowing of the gondolier. If I ever get there, I'm bringing my guitar!”
Escape was written in 1995 and epitomizes material used in Apostolos Paraskevas’ First Guitar concerto Phygein Adynaton written the same year. Composed in a narrative evocative and virtuosic way for the first part is based on quick motive gestures and simple melodic lines. The second part fast and rhythmic creates a dynamic contrast to the previous material and concludes (as a rounded binary form) with a variation of the opening mood but darker now and totally surrendered.
Asturias, original title Preludio, also called Asturias-Leyenda is a solo piano piece written in the early 1890s by Catalan composer and pianist Isaac Albéniz using rolled chords that effectively evoke the strumming of a guitar. In fact, the version usually played is a transcription of the original piano piece for guitar. Despite being called Asturias—which is the name of a northern region of Spain the piece powerfully evokes the distinctive flamenco, or gypsy, music of Andalusia, the southernmost region of the country. Written while he was living outside his homeland, it was intended to conjure the Alhambra, the palace and fortress of the Moorish, monarchs of Granada. The composition has two main melodies. First comes a determined, driving theme that builds in energy. A more melancholy middle section follows. After the contemplative middle section, the opening melody returns and brings the piece to its conclusion.
Scenes from the Life of Death is the solo version of Apostolos Paraskevas' Fourth Guitar Concerto, The Life Of Death. A three-movement work which describes the life of Death. In this highly dramatic and sometimes humorous work, the composer portrays Death in a human attitude via twists, turns, variations, technical challenges and surprises. Death is a guitarist, a composer, and a disgruntled employee. He complains all the time and wants to retire. Death's only consolation is to go home to his "soul mates," his friends, and with them perform his favorite pieces with them.
I. Awakening of Mournful Feelings on Arrival at Work
II. A Visit at the Playground, and
III. Sad and Ungrateful Feelings After the Visit - What A Life!

Put down your beloved instrument Mr. Reaper! It's time to pay a visit to a fellow musician down the street as if he had all the time in the world!
Una Limosna por el Amor de Dios (Alms for the Love of God) is a composition by Agustín Barrios Mangoré (1885-1944). Barrios was a phenomenal guitarist but today he's more respected for his late-Romantic compositions for classical guitar. Una Limosna is a religiously inspired work, with the story behind, about an old lady beggar, knocking at the door asking for the money to sing a song. This is perfect example of tremolo composition, with the melody in the soprano voice underpinned by rhythmic motif in the middle voice.

Dream Not of Today is a lullaby and a night storytelling fable with heroes, challenges and romances. It's a lullaby for the brave kids and for those adults full of emotions, who want to sleep at the end of it and only after all the good guys have already won. It is written in a jazzier and continuing motivic development style as almost a Theme and Variations. It was composed in 2013 and commissioned by and dedicated to Laura Young.
Vals Criollo (Natalia) is the third of the Four Venezuelan Waltzes composed in Ecuador in 1938-40 by Antonio Lauro. He decided to name it as well after his own daughter Natalia. Antonio Lauro was born in Ciudad Bolívar, Venezuela. His father, an Italian immigrant, was a barber who could sing and play the guitar so he taught his son what he could, but died when Antonio was still a child. After the family moved to Caracas, Lauro pursued formal musical study (piano, composition) at the Academia de Música y Declamación, where the distinguished composer Vicente Emilio Sojo (1887–1974) was one of his teachers. A 1932 concert performed in Caracas by Agustín Barrios the legendary Paraguayan guitarist and composer, so much impressed the young Lauro (already an accomplished folk guitarist) that he was persuaded to abandon piano and violin in favor of the guitar.

Total Time: 50:00
Recording Engineer: James Donahue
Editing and Sound Engineering: Raziel Panic
Recorded on January 11 and 14 of 2018 at the Shames Scoring Stage at Berklee College of Music in Boston, MA U.S.A.
Guitar: Hermann Hauser 1957
Artwork Design: Sotiris Paraskevas
Cover Photos: Laura Villafranca
Back Cover Photo (detail): Ralph Gibson
Silver Sickle Productions © Apostolos Paraskevas, 2018

Apostolos Paraskevas is a classical guitarist and composer as well as an award-winning film director and producer. He has received multiple international awards for his compositions and was nominated for a Grammy Award. He is the only guitarist ever to have a major orchestral piece performed at Carnegie Hall under the direction of Lukas Foss––and the only musician who has performed there in a Grim Reaper outfit. He has made over a dozen recordings of his music and his orchestral music has been performed around the world by numerous symphony orchestras including Albany, Boston Landmarks, Boston University, Newton, National Festival, Atlantic, Odessa (Ukraine), Hamptons Symphony, National Greek, Cyprus, Florida International University, Thessaloniki Municipal Symphony orchestras. He was the founder and served for 16 years as the artistic director of the International Guitar Congress-Festival of Corfu, Greece.

After his undergraduate music studies in Volos (Greece) he pursued advanced studies in classical guitar with Costas Cotsiolis (diploma, 1983) and Leo Brouwer (Havana 1984, 1988), as well as postgraduate studies in composition with Lukas Foss and Theodore Antoniou (DMA in composition, Boston University, 1998). Paraskevas embarked on a successful career as a guitar soloist and contemporary composer, achieving distinctions in both disciplines: Grammy nomination for Chase Dance (Bridge Records, 1999); first prize for Night Wanderings (Lukas Foss Composition Competition, 2000); first prize for Phygein Adynaton (National Composers Conference, 1997); and numerous prestigious commissions, performances, and publications. Following teaching posts at Northeastern and Boston Universities, Paraskevas has taught since 2001 at the Berklee College of Music in Boston (professor of composition and classical guitar). Although he was struck by focal hand dystonia in 2009, he recovered in 2013 after reconstructing his playing technique.

His eclectic compositional style arises as an idiosyncratic integration of seemingly conflicting influences – from avant-garde approaches to harmonic structure, form, and timbre, to pop-folk modal and rhythmical concepts – amalgamated into a personal evocative musical language, characterized by rhythmic verve, melodic grace, dramatic (and sometimes unexpectedly humorous) gestures, and ritualistic or theatrical elements. The latter feature has also led Paraskevas to the creation of films, notably the acclaimed I Finally Did It (Gold award, California Film Awards 2010), dealing wittily with Death, a recurring extra-musical theme in his music.

Publishers: Bèrben (Ancona, Italy), Clear Note (USA), Santerelle/Allegra Musikverlag (Erzhausen, Germany), Papagrigoriou-Nakas (Athens, Greece), Centaur Records, Bridge Records (USA).

The Groves Dictionary of Music
Costas Tsougras

Phoenix, is the first commercial recording since Apostolos Paraskevas’ recovery of Focal Dystonia after he was struck to his right hand in 2009. He fully recovered in 2013 after 7,000 hours of work in re-constructing his technique. He was able to decode the condition as an unconscious behavioral habit and returned to performing professionally again. His article A Classical Guitarist's Story of Recovery from Focal Dystonia was published in London in the Classical Guitar Magazine in August 2013.

(Reviews)

His eclectic compositional style arises as an idiosyncratic integration of seemingly conflicting influences – from avant-garde approaches to harmonic structure, form, and timbre, to pop-folk modal and rhythmical concepts – amalgamated into a personal evocative musical language, characterized by rhythmic verve, melodic grace, dramatic (and sometimes unexpectedly humorous) gestures, and ritualistic or theatrical elements.
¬¬¬¬ Groves Dictionary

"...musical, sensitive, intelligent. His music is sensitive, lively, dramatic and brilliant...a young extremely gifted composer...a formidable talent. I know he will succeed."
Lukas Foss

...I believe that he is one of those great artists who could mean a lot for Greek music and music in general."
Theodore Antoniou

Apostolos Paraskevas shows us that a meeting point can be found between advanced contemporary idioms and evocations of an almost popular style. This music is notable for its rhythmic verve, its melodic grace, and its emotional depth. It has genuine substance, but speaks directly to the listener-a rare and welcome achievement."
John Daverio

"...Amazing technique, his compositions graphically told, specialist in the guitar music of the 20 century..."
Richard Knisely, WGBH/Boston


"...Dr. Paraskevas, is an amazingly versatile guitarist. He conquers the many technical challenges of this repertoire with ease, he can sing with the purest tone…I am sold on Paraskevas's playing, and do not think hunting down the alternatives is necessary.
Fanfare/Raymond Tuttle



Apostolos Paraskevas is a genuine innovator, a discoverer of…well, one hesitates to say new sounds, because it’s difficult to make such claims. But they sound new, and clearly he has an original mind that should make future compositions worth listening to”.
Classical Guitar Magazine/Colin Cooper



His music contributes so much to the classical guitar 20 century repertory; it is confident, even fearless and sounds so well under his own fingers..."
Mark De Voto/Boston

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