Thursday, June 4, 2020

Gerald Levinson, Now Your Colors Sing

Gerald Levinson shows us how expressive and articulate his compositions are on the recent two-CD set Now Your Colors Sing (Innova 948 2-CD). There are ten works represented, ranging in performance size from solo piano to vocalist and full orchestra, from the Notre Dame organ to a chamber group. What's remarkable is how consistently memorable and unique the works are as a whole.

This is music of character. It is no accident that the piano work "Chorale for Nanine" is subtitled "Hommage a Messiaen" and similarly that "Musiques Nocturnes" is subtitled as a homage to Bartok. The influences are there, perhaps also a bit of George Crumb atmospherically. Imitation may be flattery but this is not imitation so much as inspiration. What subsists in it all is character, and a musico-literate fluidity.

Levinson's thirty minute "Anahata (Symphony No. 1)" is a key work in this offering, a strong statement, a dramatic essential. There may well be a Messiaenic sort of rhythmic-harmonic sophistication here but it suggests more than re-quotes. And it stands on its own.

The rest of the program also satisfies--with an appealing variety of sound colors and inventive content. Performances are quite fine, including the American Composer's Orchestra and the Frankfurt Radio Symphony, both under Hugh Wolff, Marcantonio Barone and Charles Abramovic, pianos, soprano Carmen Pelton and Orchestra 2001 under James Freeman, etc.

It is a treasure trove of New Music from a well deserving voice, an original composer of distinction. Very recommended.

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