Basil Athanasiadis ‘Stray Cat’s Dream’



In the follow-up to his ‘Clouds That I Like’ album (Sargasso SCD28067), Greek composer Basil Athanasiadis continues his exploration of the Japanese/Zen aesthetic concept of ‘wabi-sabi’, an ambiguous and complex principle roughly translatable as ‘simplicity, emptiness, humility, primitiveness, impermanence, unpretentiousness’. Japanese traditional instruments such as the sho and the 20-stringed koto, are intrinsically connected to the wabi-sabi idea, infusing natural beauty into seemingly simple musical gestures, and, in Athanasiadis hands, become the perfect vehicles for a thoroughly contemporary musical investigation.Shortly after the Fukushima earthquake and nuclear disaster Athanasiadis received a two-year award from the Japanese Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS) to support his Fellowship at the Tokyo University of the Arts and Music. As a result, these six compositions, recorded in Tokyo, feature some of the best Japanese virtuosos, including his wife, vocalist Shie Shoji. Despite the playfulness of some of the titles, this collection of pieces is suffused with bittersweet emotions (Athanasiadis recently lost both his mother and sister) that, like the wabi-sabi attitude, reveal the complexities found in the stillness of the human spirit.After completing his piano and advanced theory studies at the National Conservatoire of Athens, Athanasiadis moved to London where he studied composition at Trinity College of Music, the Royal Academy of Music and finally at Canterbury Christ Church University where he obtained his PhD supported by the Research Studentship Award. His works are characterised by a strong visual identity; his performances have often been accompanied by dance or stage action. Early influences can be traced to Sergiu Celibidache’s views on aspects of ambience and acoustic space (Athanasiadis attended Celibidache’s Munich seminars in 1994), and in composers such as Christou, Feldman and Takemitsu.


voice: Shie Shoji, 20-stringed koto: Keiko Hisamoto, sho: Naomi Sato,
violin: Momoko Yamada (10, 12-15)/Stelios Chatziiosifidis (17), flute: Taka Masuda, piano: Junko Nakamura (1–9)/Evgenia Votanopoulou (11, 16)

produced by: Basil Athanasiadis/Tatsuhiko Nishioka

recording engineer: Toru Kamekawa

editing: Toru Kamekawa/Basil Athanasiadis

recording dates: 29 March, 18 & 29 April, 10 & 17 August, 20 October 2013

recording location: Tokyo University of Music and the Arts, Senju Campus, Studio A(10–17), Ueno Campus Studio(1–9)


1-9. book of dreams (flute, prepared piano) 16:03
10. shinobu koi (for violin) 6:36
11. stray cat’s dream (for piano) 10:26
12-15. little songs of the geisha II (for female voice, sho, violin) 18:05
16. youki (for piano) 8:25
17. utakata (for violin, 20-stringed koto) 12:18


Also available as downloads:

Basil Athansiadis - Stray Cat's Dream

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