Words by Marc Dubin
Toe-tapping traditional Cretan lyýra: would you care to dance?
Talented composer-musician Stelios Petrakis emerged from Ross Daly’s teaching workshops in 1999. Daly, a Crete resident and multi-instrumentalist had himself been a student of lyra master Kostas Moundakis (1926-91), who is paid due homage on this album. It’s indicative of the parlous state of Greece’s recording industry, and of Petrakis’ universal accessibility, that it’s been the French labels Buda, Accords Croisés and now Ocora that have released his recent CDs.
Petrakis’ playing on the lyra (a three-stringed, fretted lap-fiddle) is muscular yet sensitive. It perfectly complements top vocalist Vassilis Stavrakakis, two players of laoúto, Thanasis Mavrokostas on lyroúkla (a deeper-toned cello-lyra hybrid designed by Petrakis) and Giannis Papatzanis on daoúli (drum).
Indeed it’s a highly rhythmic album, and the 1930s practice of having a dancer (Mavrokostas) in the recording studio is revived. Besides original pieces in a traditional style, there are instrumental classics attributed to known 18th-century composers, or poignantly credited to Andreas Rodinos, who died aged 23 in 1935. There’s scant singing, but Stavrakakis shines on the rizítiko (slow patriotic melody) of ‘Trote ke Pinete Arhondes’, and especially on the Asia Minor-flavoured ‘Thalassa – Egyran ta Klonaria Mou’.