“Heavy road, remote buildings…an approximate definition… I’m on the road…fog pressing upon me from every side…words, whispers, mutterings…a vacant structure…” Thus begins Turkish poet Murathan Mungan’s Bells in the Mist, the inspiration for Mahir Cetiz’s composition of the same title.

Written for small chamber ensembles and solo instruments, Cetir’s works are severe, sparse, rigorous compositions, perfect vehicles for Anairesis, a Metier CD of New Music (msv92107).

Featuring the excellent Anairesis Ensemble, led by British conductor Matthew Cory and generous in its employ of the lighter instruments of the percussion family, Mist Bells’ use of small cymbals, vibraphone, crotales, and tam tams, accompanying a woodwind ensemble in tandem with violin, cello and piano trio, creates a dream-like sonic landscape that envelops the listener much like the fog in Mungan’s poem..

Panayiotis DemopoulosTheme and Variations on a Villota by Filippo Azzaiolo, is a intriguing set of variations for woodwind ensemble that uses a 16th century song by a lesser-known Renaissance composer.

Demoulos’ Three Songs for bass voice and piano tap into texts by the late Brazilian poetess Cecilia Meireles, the British Ursula Vaughan Williams, and Aeschylus.

Of Seventh Doors, for cello and piano is a musical homage to Béla Bartók that responds to the Hungarian master’s opera Bluebeard’s Castle by assigning the roles of protagonist and antagonist to each of the two instruments in the composition.
Panayiotis Demopoulos, piano (ddv24166) features in yet another fine release by Divine Art, a very fine pianist, as evidenced by his playing of the Three Intermezzi, Op.117 by Brahms and Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition.

The artist excels in all three of these Romantic miniatures: delicate in the E flat Lullaby, elegant in the B flat minor, intense in the C sharp minor.

The seasonal connotations of the Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter of Panayiotis’ composition Four Farewells for Piano are not of the weather variety, but of a sentimental nature, dedicated to the composer’s two most important mentors and each written at different times of the year. They provide a bracing contrast to the Brahms and Mussorgsky compositions that occupy the remainder of this CD.

Well-written program notes accompany these two nicely packaged and carefully engineered CD’s.

Rafael de Acha            All About the Performing Arts                 January 16, 2018



By giving his Sono Luminus CD the title of WINDOWS, pianist Bruce Levingston’s hints at a clue as to what he might have had in mind when he decided to include Schumann’s Kinderszenen in the same album with David Bruce’s The Shadow of a Blackbird and James Matheson’s Windows.

No three works could at first hearing be more dissimilar. And yet, as one revisits this felicitous tripartite pairing of pianistic works from three different music worlds one gradually comes to understand their many commonalities. All three are miniature depictions of scenes from the realms of memory and of the imagination, spiritual windows into states of the soul.

Bruce Levingston gives a sensitive, soulful, interpretation of Schumann’s Scenes from Childhood (Kinderszenen), always mindful of Schumann’s very specific tempo markings yet never afraid of underpinning his playing with his own musical points of view. Note, as one wonderful moment of many, how he makes the near stasis of The Poet Speaks (Der Dichter Spricht) a meaningful finale to this cycle of fifteen exquisite miniatures. Livingston then caps the Schumann section of the CD with an idiomatically flawless Arabesque.

All four of the compositions in this CD are essentially Romantic works, even though Bruce’s The Shadow of the Blackbird’s and Matheson’s Windows’ lack of tonal centers and complex harmonic structures are as far removed from Schumann’s 1818 naïve Romanticism as any composition could be. The programming of these three composers’ works in one CD is daring and utterly successful.

Windows uses plumbing bass figures pitted against delicate filigrees in the upper octaves of the piano in Jeremiah, sudden outbursts of tonal clusters in Isaiah and minimalism in Crucifixion and The Good Samaritan all to express a transfixed deep spirituality. In The Rose, Matheson achieves a higher level of intensity by again using ostinato figures in the lower register of the keyboard.

The composers’ styles are as remote from Schumann’s crystalline melodies and child-like wonderment at the simplicity of life as any music can be, yet there is kinship among these three compositions, giving the listener a program that coalesces and provides over an hour of pleasure, thanks to the devotedly committed playing of Bruce Levingston, an elegant musician whose playing is ever self-effacing and always at the service of the music.

This Sono Luminus elegantly packaged, well engineered and intelligently annotated release should be a welcome addition to the libraries of those who, like this writer, love great piano music in the hands of master players.

Rafael de Acha All About the Arts January 1, 2018