Basler Zeitung, 23.08.2016
The great awakening occurred with the orchestra of the Lucerne Festival Academy, directed by the conductor and composer Konstantia Gourzi (54). In “Le Sacrifice” by Iannis Xenakis she brought out sharp shafts of sound, calculated to slay the mythical bull to whom the work is dedicated. After that we were able to relax in Per Nørgård’s “Voyage into the Golden Screen” where trance-like effects were achieved with tiny sound displacements. In György Ligeti’s “Concert Romanesc” the orchestra moved virtuosically between fiery dance rhythms and mountain idylls evoked by horn motifs.
The high point was heralded as Gourzi’s new work entitled “Ny-él, Two Angels in the White Garden”. This is part of a series of compositions devoted to angels by the Greek-born composer, who now lives in Munich. At the premiere, conducted by Gourzi herself, the many archaic rhythms and wistful wind melodies were striking. In between, there were repeated disruptive sound effects until the orchestra reached an idiosyncratic shimmering sound in the last movement.
neue musikzeitung, 10/2016
And quite different again was Konstantia Gourzi who gave a concert with the Lucerne Festival Academy (LFA): the performance by the Greek musician, who lives and teaches in Munich, was a high point of the programme.
What is more, her conducting was captivating, with its unpretentious objectivity and coolness – in no way reserved or distant, but striving towards “music-making at eye-level”, something she learned as Abbado’s assistant. Particularly benefitting from this approach were “Le Sacrifice” by Iannis Xenakis and “Voyage into the Golden Screen” by Per Nørgård, which Gourzi coupled with the premiere of one of her own works: “Ny-él – Two Angels in the White Garden” op. 65. The work is dedicated to Abbado and Boulez. Oriental-sounding melodies bump up against eruptive percussion.
Der Landbote, 23.08.2016
The Greek composer and conductor Konstantia Gourzi revealed herself to be a wonderful communicator, making a congenial and artistically impressive appearance with the Festival Academy. A cleverly devised programme with works by Iannis Xenakis and Per Nørgård also included her own work, a commission for the Lucerne Festival: “Ny-él, Two Angels in the White Garden” reveals the composer’s impressions of bronze sculptures by the artist Alexander Polzin in eruptions of sound and rhythm, and in powerful melodic gestures.
Hannoversche Allgemeine Zeitung, 10.09.2016
Konstantia Gourzi, the Greek composer, conductor and professor in Munich (wearing a long light blue frock-coat and black trousers) then demonstrated how to conduct the complicated work of Iannis Xenakis and the cheerful-folkloric of the young György Ligeti with precise hand gestures. When Per Nørgård’s “Voyage into the Golden Screen” simply doesn’t want to end, Gourzi then shapes the dying notes with her two hands, as if she is guiding soap bubbles safely home.
And she was even more resolute when it came to the premiere of her own commissioned work “Ny-él. Two Angels in the White Garden”. Its fifteen minutes’ duration had nothing of the esoteric about it, despite its title, but a vital, rhythmically-characterized music, the themes of which would be highly suitable for film – for the Alfred Hitchcock of the black-and-white era or a Greek drama.
Further among the women’s musical offerings was an hour by Greek composer Konstantia Gourzi, who launched her programme by conducting a challenging piece by Iannis Xenakis. His work, with its pioneer muscular repetitions and explosive momentum, was a true test of accurate pacing. Gourzi also took on an intriguing piece by Per Nørgård, whose extended possibilities among some 25 instruments produced a variety of chuckling, grating and hauntingly metallic sounds. The world première of the conductor’s own piece Ny-él, Two Angels in the White Garden gave us a reflection of Gourzi’s deep sense of spirituality in four miniatures. I particularly liked its slithery segments, robust cello, and the way it explored the limitless possibilities of sound generation − bowing or slapping the cello’s wooden body, for example.
Revue musicale Suisse, 09/2016
[Mirga Gražinyte-Tyla] impressed just as much as the one-woman-show by Gourzi. As conductor, composer and presenter, Gourzi brilliantly embedded her commissioned work between the sound fragments and melodies of Xenakis, Nørgård and Ligeti.
Neue Luzerner Zeitung, 22.08.2016
On Sunday, alongside works by Iannis Xenakis, György Ligeti and Per Nørgård, Konstantia Gourzi also conducted the premiere of her own work “Ny-él”. Inspired by angel sculptures by the artist Alexander Polzin, the work wonderfully complemented the other works, not least because of its programmatic content. As conductor, Gourzi demonstrated her own repertoire of gestures for of each of the four pieces, making Nørgård’s “Voyage into the Golden Screen” in particular into an almost meditative experience.
Reviews of "Kopernikus" (Oper by Claude Vivier) at the Munich Biennale:
Review of the concert of Nils Mönkemeyer/Ensemble Ruhr
time zero, München
Conjuctions - Synápsies, Neos
Interviews with Konstantia Gourzi