Review of Staubzucker by Marios Joannou Elia, Aesthis Records, 2015
Staubzucker or powdered sugar.
Marios Joannou Elia (born 1978), is a Cypriot composer and artistic director. He was the youngest director in the history of European Capital of Culture (2013-15) and, although so young he can already show a really impressive artistic curriculum. In 2015 he released this record “Staubzucker” who won three Gold Medals at Global Music Awards 2016 in California, respectively in the categories Classical Contemporary, Album and Creativity and Originality.
A truly remarkable achievement for a not easy listening record that I could define as… postmodern: an album that, at the same time, doesn’t seems the “typical” Darmstadt contemporary music and is far away from the classical guitar records’ clichés. Staubzucker is an eclectic disc with which Elias seems to explore the guitar’s infinite possibilities, in particular about chamber music. This record shows nine different passages, the oldest “In Between” composed in 1999, while the latest “Cursed” dates 2008. The differences within these compositions are evident both for formations adopted and construction: in With a Pair of Scissors and Thousand Threads (2002) for violin and guitar, guitarist plays simultaneously two classical guitars, Cursed (2008) for classical and electric guitar, is developed on a single note, in sharp contrast to Staubzucker (2007) for guitar quartet, transformed by Elia in a percussion ensemble through the imitation of 23 different percussion sounds played by guitars, along with the addition of vocal elements. All this is combined with a strong use of phrases and riffs’ quotation taken from many musical genres that are developed in an intelligent and, at the same time, complex manner, sometimes I had such a sense of deja vu: it seems to me to recognize a phrase, a context, but the musical flow doesn’t allow to identify, to remember what was perhaps an echo, a memory or just a quote.
A very interesting record, not only for the quality of music presented here but also because these nine scores show the presence of an evolving musical journey dedicated to the guitar and its expressive possibilities, a path that I hope doesn’t stop with this excellent disc.
Surely one of the Staubzucker merits is the excellent quality of the musicians involved, perfectly playing Elia’s musics, also for having worked extensively with the Cypriot composer. My compliments to Kostas Tosidis (guitar), Ronny Wiesauer (electric guitar), Georges-Emmanuel Schneider (violin), Chih-Hui Chang (cello), Yorgos Nousis and Kostas Tosidis (guitar duo) and Miscelanea Guitar Quartet, really considerable. Highly recommended.
1 Ontologie Kubik
3 Im Spiegel
5 In Between I. Tragedy
6 II. Elegy
8 With a Pair of Scissors and a Thousand Threads