Cover Anájikon

Album info



Label: ECM New Series

Genre: Classical

Subgenre: Chamber Music

Artist: Nils Mönkemeyer & William Youn

Composer: Konstantia Gourzi (1962)

Album including Album cover Booklet (PDF)

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  • Konstantia Gourzi (b. 1962): Hommage à Mozart:
  • 1Gourzi: Hommage à Mozart: I. Con eleganza, intense, tanzend05:28
  • 2Gourzi: Hommage à Mozart: II. Singing, sostenuto, dreamish03:49
  • 3Gourzi: Hommage à Mozart: III. Scherzoso, ma calmo05:41
  • Ny-él / Two Angels in the White Garden, for Orchestra, Op. 65:
  • 4Gourzi: Ny-él / Two Angels in the White Garden, for Orchestra, Op. 65: I. Eviction03:16
  • 5Gourzi: Ny-él / Two Angels in the White Garden, for Orchestra, Op. 65: II. Exodus04:34
  • 6Gourzi: Ny-él / Two Angels in the White Garden, for Orchestra, Op. 65: III. Longing02:45
  • 7Gourzi: Ny-él / Two Angels in the White Garden, for Orchestra, Op. 65: IV. The White Garden06:06
  • Anájikon / The Angel in the Blue Garden, String Quartet No. 3, Op.61:
  • 8Gourzi: Anájikon / The Angel in the Blue Garden, String Quartet No. 3, Op.61: I. The Blue Rose04:37
  • 9Gourzi: Anájikon / The Angel in the Blue Garden, String Quartet No. 3, Op.61: II. The Blue Bird05:13
  • 10Gourzi: Anájikon / The Angel in the Blue Garden, String Quartet No. 3, Op.61: IIIa. The Blue Moon – The Bright Side04:24
  • 11Gourzi: Anájikon / The Angel in the Blue Garden, String Quartet No. 3, Op.61: IIIb. The Blue Moon – Turning00:48
  • 12Gourzi: Anájikon / The Angel in the Blue Garden, String Quartet No. 3, Op.61: IIIc. The Blue Moon – The Dark Side03:57
  • Total Runtime50:38

Info for Anájikon

Anájikon, the second ECM album by Athens-born and Munich-based Konstantia Gourzi, incorporates her chamber and orchestral music of the past decade. The composer also conducts the Lucerne Academy Orchestra here: "I see composing and conducting as a whole, as an inseparable relationship," she says. Gourzi is particularly concerned with making connections between the arts, which also relates to the question of her own artistic identity and the influence of her origins. In Gourzi's sound language, elements of different musical traditions repeatedly merge, and East and West enter into a dialogue.

In two of the featured works there are connections to the visual arts: her Third String Quartet Anájikon and her orchestral piece Ny-él are part of a series of works on the theme of angels. Inspired by artworks by friends, they seek not to interpret them musically, but to approach them sonically, to bring them to life. Most of Gourzi’s angel compositions have freely invented names as well as a colour assigned to them, reflecting the sound energy of the piece. Anájikon, the Angel in the Blue Garden, was written in 2015 for the Minguet Quartet and as the first composition in this series of works. It was inspired by the bronze sculpture Angel I by Berlin artist Alexander Polzin.

The three movements (The Blue Rose, The Blue Bird, The Blue Moon), seem to span a wide space. This impression is created by a music at peace with itself, which consciously distances itself from the "usual contemporary sound sequences and patterns" (Gourzi) and instead relies on consonance and concise melodies and exerts an almost hypnotic pull. In the first movement, with its chorale-like sections, the four instruments can sing themselves out soloistically over a steady eighth-note pulse. The second movement is characterized by solos from the viola and cello, until finally individual motif splinters are woven into a rhythmically free sound field of the entire quartet. In the final The Blue Moon, the sounds evoke the bright and the dark sides of the earth's satellite (The bright side - The turning - The dark side).

Konstantia Gourzi premiered her orchestral piece Ny-él, two Angels in the White Garden, commissioned by the Lucerne Festival, in August 2016 with the orchestra of the Lucerne Festival Academy, founded by Pierre Boulez. The score is dedicated to the memory of Boulez and Claudio Abbado. The vanishing point of the four short movements, which form a narrative unity and were also inspired by a work by Alexander Polzin (Double Angel, 2014), is the final White Garden with its quintessential final chords bathed, as it were, in radiant white ("religious, very warm" is the score instruction). This is reached via the stations Eviction, Exodus and Longing.

In contrast to Anájikon, an extensive percussion section provides strong rhythmic impulses, especially at the beginning with its conflict between archaic percussion and the plaintive cantilenas of the strings and woodwinds. The shimmering, atmospherically dense orchestral colors also result from the use of unusual playing techniques (from strong exhalations and flutter-tonguing in the wind instruments to the use of rubber balls played on the body of the string instruments) and from aleatoric elements through which the instrumentalists "find their way into an individual tonal design."

A very different connection between "the past and the now" is explored in Hommage à Mozart, three Dialogues, a 2014 commission for Nils Mönkemeyer and William Youn. The composition seems tailor-made for Mönkemeyer's sonorous, sometimes shadowy, sometimes radiant, but always singing viola tone. The three meditative "dialogues" trace Gourzi's relationship to Mozart without making use of individual direct quotations or allusions to Mozart's music. The single motif of the theme, initially performed by the viola solo, is developed in variations, and the viola's floating cantilenas, sometimes sounding as if improvised, are accompanied by weightlessly dabbed piano sounds, up to dancing eighth notes by the pianist. The composer is concerned with moods explored in the dialogue between the two instruments, with "a feeling, a certain aura - what Mozart triggers in me sonically at the moment," says Gourzi. "[...] I feel Mozart and his music as energy and let it guide me."

Konstantia Gourzi studied piano, composition and conducting in Athens and Berlin. Always searching for new performance concepts for contemporary music, Gourzi initiated new concert series and founded various ensembles such as attacca berlin, ensemble echo, ensemble oktopus and opus21musikplus. She writes commissioned compositions for renowned soloists, ensembles and festivals, such as Lucerne Festival, Grafenegg Festival, hr-Sinfonieorchester, Bamberger Symphoniker, Bavarian State Opera, Athens State Orchestra and many more. She lives in Munich, where she has been a professor at the Munich University of Music and Theatre since 2002.

Anájikon is preceded by the album Music for piano and string quartet (ECM New Series 2309), which presented the composer's work for the first time. UK magazine Gramophone described the album as "An absorbing introduction to an eminently worthwhile composer."

Nils Mönkemeyer, viola
William Youn, piano
Lucerne Academy Orchestra
Minguet Quartett

Nils Mönkemeyer
Artistic brilliance and innovative programming are the trademarks with which the Bremen native Nils Mönkemeyer has, in a short time, achieved international renown as a musician while drawing enormous new attention to the viola.

As an exclusive Sony Classical artist, he has brought out several critically acclaimed, award-winning CDs in the last years, all of which have made their way into the German classical charts. The programmes of this and Mönkemeyer’s previous recordings encompass discoveries and first recordings of original viola literature ranging from the 18th century to modern pieces, as well as his own transcriptions. 2017 will mark the release of the newest recording with works by Walton, Bruch and Pärt and the Bamberg Symphony Orchestra under the baton of Markus Poschner.

Nils Mönkemeyer has collaborated with such conductors as Sylvain Cambreling, Elias Grandy, Christopher Hogwood, Cornelius Meister, Mark Minkowski, Michael Sanderling, Clemens Schuldt, Karl-Heinz Steffens, Markus Stenz, Mario Venzago and Simone Young, including orchestras like the Tonhalle Orchestra Zurich, Helsinki Philharmonic, Musiciens du Louvre, Berne Symphony Orchestra, Konzerthaus Orchestra Berlin, Staatskapelle Weimar, Bremen and Hamburg Philharmonic, Dusseldorf Symphony Orchestra, MDR and NDR Radio Orchestras and the Berlin Baroque Soloists.

In the season 2017/18 he will appear as soloist at major international concert venues like the Musikverein Vienna, Salzburg, Helsinki Music Center, Liechtenstein, at the Philharmonie Berlin and Cologne, Festspielhaus Baden-Baden, Gasteig in Munich and the Alte Oper Frankfurt.g in Munich and the Alte Oper Frankfurt.

With his regular chamber music projects like the trio with Sabine Meyer and William Youn, the Julia Fischer Quartet and the duo with pianist William Youn, he will be heard on stages like the Wigmore Hall London, National Concert Hall Taipeh, Liszt Hall Budapest, Tonhalle Zurich, Philharmonie Luxembourg, Muziekgebouw Amsterdam, Gewandhaus Leipzig, Prinzregententheater Munich, Boulez Hall Berlin and at numerous festivals.

Since 2011 Nils Mönkemeyer is a professor at the University for Music and Performing Arts in Munich, where he used to study himself with Hariolf Schlichtig. Previously, he was a professor at the University of Music in Dresden and assistant professor at the Escuela Superior Musica Reina Sofia Madrid.

Booklet for Anájikon

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