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25 Nov

Effie Agrafioti Interview

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Effie Agrafioti talks about the Dave Brubeck Tribute concert at Theocharakis foundation on December 5, 2013 – works for two pianos by the great American composer with Effie Agrafioti and George Kontrafouris

Exactly one year after the death of  Dave Brubeck, you attempt to honor a significant composer in the history of jazz, playing works that reveals not only the experience and imagination he had but also his deep knowledge of music. What will you play on December 5th?
In this concert the main protagonist is Brubeck   and two co-protagonists, his friend and his teacher. The program is a revelation for us. We enjoy the rehearsals ! We will play a composition dedicated to Dave Brubeck from his professor in composition Darius Milhaud entitled Kentuckiana  and the last part of the Symphonic Dances from West Side Story by L. Bernstein. Milhaud gave great importance to teach young composers the creative use of local musical languages , as in Kentuckiana , the language of the Indians of Kentucky.
Brubeck  and Bernstein were friends and  also colleagues for some years .In 1961 Brubeck recorded West Side Story(Dave Brubeck plays Bernstein). Since 1959 , Paul Desmond, Dave Brubeck, Leonard Bernstein they played concerts together , as a duo or trio and as  soloists with New York Philharmonic. They were close friends for many decades . Bernstein called Brubeck « thoroughbred stallion of the twentieth century." But Bernstein was greatly influenced as a composer from the personality of Darius Milhaud. Maybe more from him- as he confessed- , than from Stravinsky . "The reason is the impressive palette of sounds, the unexpected that rises from the use of extended harmonies , the anarchy that you think the sound is wrong in the beginning but a second later you accept it as the most perfect thing for that specific moment   , " Bernstein says .
Brubeck also admired the composer Charles Ives for his interesting use of traditional elements and nuances in symphonic music . In 1976 Brubeck composed in memory of Charles Ives ‘’ They All Sang Yankee Doodle” a piece that rarely performed   .’’ For the synthesis of this work, which are variations without rules , I looked up the local music and the music of my childhood memories , my admiration for the music of Bach and all the musicians I had studied during my studies’’ , Brubeck says . Indeed, the listener will be impressed by the sheer imagination and the ability that Brubeck has to combine nearly fifteen well-known musical themes with the traditional title song . These variations are really amazing !
Two other compositions of Dave Brubeck will be played at the concert : the completely unknown ( and apparently first performance here ) ‘’four by four’’, a youthful composition of 1946 , a work he wrote for his final composition exam , with many characteristic elements of the old "classical" logic in composing and well hidden innovative ideas ready to display . Sounds more like a Milhaud   composition.
We will also play the suite ‘’Points on jazz ‘’(1958), is a piece that we performed last summer  at the Garden of the Athens Concert Hall . Vertebrate work, something like theme with variations in the edge of free jazz improvisation , with elegance and dance mood.

How a jazz musician and a soloist of classical repertoire create a common way to play ?
Music is one. As you approach music you start to see the unity of music. We are working very thoroughly each program and we build a common understanding of what we want to present to the public. Certainly helps that George has a huge range of knowledge and substantial experience of classical music, and also I love jazz very much .Everything else is work and practice.

What are you going to present in your next program ?
From KalliopiTsoupaki Vassilis Bakopoulos Panayiotis Theodossiou and Kostas Grigorea to Philip Glass and Claus Ogerman. But at the moment we can not wait for the concert at the Theoharakis Foundation !

Dave Brubeck : in memoriam -  on December 5, 2013 at Theocharakis foundation - Vassilis Sofias avenue 9 & Merlin street Athens - 20:30 - tickets 10,15,20 euros - www.thf.gr  - 210 3611206 - A tribute to  Dave  Brubeck by Efi Agrafioti and George Kontrafouris, just a year after his death. http://jazzonline.gr/en/jazzenda/item/1847-dave-brubeck-in-memoriam.html