Thursday, June 8, 2017

Nikos Relias, Greek Clarinet Master

Today I present a 12" Columbia record in their "E" series of ethnic recordings. I'm not sure when this disc was recorded, but based on the label style, it was probably issued in the United States in 1925. It was likely recorded in New York, where the great clarinetist Nikos Relias (1892-1969) lived from 1907 to 1925. Relias is accompanied by Kostas (Gus) Papagika on cymbalon (hammered dulcimer) and Markos Sifneos on cello. Note that Papagika's last name is misspelled on the label.

Papagika was the husband and accompanist of his more-famous wife, the singer Marika Papagika. Cellist Sifneos frequently played and recorded with Mrs. Papagika as well. Relias had a long and colorful career, and was known as quite the entertainer in Greece. He composed the theme music for the national radio station that is still used today.

I don't know enough about traditional Greek music to say much about these pieces, except that they are complex and impressively played. Unfortunately, Sifneos' cello is practically inaudible. I tried to correct this with some EQ, but there was barely any low-frequency signal to boost.

Aryiticos Horos

O Loulios, Tsamicos

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