Magazine article Gramophone

'Windows' Bruce the Shadow of the Blackbird

Magazine article Gramophone

'Windows' Bruce the Shadow of the Blackbird

Article excerpt

'Windows' Bruce The Shadow of the Blackbird Matheson Windows Schumann Arabeske, Op 18. Kinderszenen. Op 15 Bruce Levingston pf Sono Luminus (F) DSL92218 (69' * DDD)

Bruce Levingston's annual solo CD releases follow a pattern consisting of a poetic title and a programme interweaving old and new music. 'Windows' is true to form, with works by David Bruce and James Mattheson (both b1970) bracketing Schumann's venerable Kinderszenen and Arabeske.

The first movement of David Bruce's The Shadow of the Blackbird uses the opening notes from Schumann's Kreisleriana to launch a rhapsodic, Spanish-tinged fantasia that slows down into an introspective chordal episode anchored by slow repeated notes. The repeated notes return in the manner of flamenco-like flourishes as the music builds to a climax and slowly retreats to a quiet conclusion. Next to this movement's freewheeling flow, the slow and sparsely lit second movement seems like an anticlimax. Reversing the movements might guarantee better box office but for now I'll grant David Bruce the benefit of the doubt.

Doubt, however, is the operative word in regard to Levingston's Kinderszenen. The pianist follows his overstressed opening piece with a rhythmically stiff No 2 and a No 3 hampered by ambling detached articulation. The child depicted in No 4 is not so much pleading as emoting, while Levingston lays heavily into No 5's inner lines. Happily, No 6's pompous processional chords are spot-on; but the pianist's overly protracted No 7, 'Traumerei' ('Dreaming'), ought to be retided 'Comatose'. …

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