Review: Unreal City by Kostas Tosidis


Unreal City by Kostas Tosidis
Artist Website:
Contrastes Records:
Released May 2014

Listen to samples or buy the album:
Kostas Tosidis Unreal City on Amazon or on Spotify

Greek guitarist Kostas Tosidis has released this intense collection of sonatas by Ginastera, Hurwitz, Ourkouzounov, Ligeti, and Halffter under the title “Unreal City” released by Contrastes Records. Kostas Tosidis, an accomplished guitarist already, is a PhD Candidate at the Mozarteum University Salzburg, Austria, where he assists Eliot Fisk. As his bio says, Kostas hopes to work on “The transcription of Contemporary cello sonatas to the guitar. The topic focuses on musical pieces such as Gyorgy Ligeti’s solo cello sonata, George Crumb’s solo Cello sonata, Zoltan Kodaly solo cello sonata and Yannis Xenakis, Kottos’s monumental work. The goal of this project is to extend the guitar’s repertoire and also to explore the instrument’s technical and interpretative possibilities.”

This album is filled with fantastic repertoire. All the works are Sonatas with the Ginastera, Hurwitz, Ourkouzounov being written for guitar and the rest being arrangements by Tosidis and Fisk. With the exception of the Ginastera these are recording premieres of the works on guitar.

Sonata for Guitar Op. 47 by Alberto Ginastera (1916-1983)
Guitar Sonata by Tal Hurwitz
Sonata for Solo Cello by György Ligeti (1923-2006)
Sonata for Violin by Christóbal Halffter (b. 1930), arr. Fisk
Sonata No. 2 “Hommage à Bartók” by Atanas Ourkouzounov

Tosidis pulls off all the works with ease. I appreciate his style overall, it’s articulate and inventive but there is plenty of risk as well. The last movement of the Ginastera is particularly aggressive and, for lack of better words, rocks. Another point of huge interest is the cello sonata by Ligeti. Tosidis pulls out all the stops with the Legeti,  he charges through this challenging work with great momentum. His virtuosity is impressive but it’s a virtuosity that includes great amounts of control and precision over the sound. It’s not always super clean when pushing the dynamic and risk level to the max but the musical result far outweighs any other concerns. Plenty of great coloristic playing as the range dips and rises. I must admit that I did not know the sonata by Christóbal Halffter but it works well on guitar. The intense contrasts in mood and extroverted gestures are executed brilliantly. The Finale has an explosion of sound and virtuosity, I was shocked which doesn’t happen often! Tosidis is a fearless player (Fisk influence?) and he’s got the musical skills to back it up. The recording quality is great, sounds very present yet not much nail noise or anything like that.

The big quote:

“This is a great recording filled with fantastic works and premiere arrangements. With fearless virtuosity and top quality repertoire, Kostas Tosidis has recorded one of the most daring and exciting albums of the year.” – Bradford Werner,

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