Citizen

Bruce Levingston

19.9921.99
Clear
Original Recording Format: DXD

The genesis of this recording was an invitation to perform for the opening of the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum, an event which inspired me to meditate on the complex history of my birthplace, Mississippi.

A storied, culturally-rich state, it has produced some of our country’s most important artists – including William Faulkner, B.B. King, Leontyne Price, and Eudora Welty – but is also a place that has witnessed notably difficult struggles with race, poverty, and equality. The scars are painful and deep. Here, among our colleges, churches, cotton fields and battlefields, contradictions abound. These disparate, but related, elements have long absorbed and confounded artists born in this mystical place.

In recent years, I have come to see that my beloved state only reveals more intensely what exists in other places in our world: the struggle for people to come to terms with one another’s histories and differences.

In this time of turmoil between peoples and nations, focused on issues of citizenship and patriotism, we continue this struggle. I chose to name this album “Citizen,” not only because it contains works that reflect upon actual citizenship and human rights, but also to highlight that we are all citizens of one earth, and in order to survive, we must find ways to respect one another’s differences, and strongly uphold each other’s right to exist with dignity and freedom.

On this recording, I have gathered together works by composers who have contemplated these issues deeply. The voices of these artists plead for civility, humanity, and love, and each brings a sense of immediacy to the cause – offering not a clenched fist, but an open hand that reaches out with a welcoming embrace.

— BRUCE LEVINGSTON

Tracklist

1.
American Citizen
10:00
2.
3 Visions - No. 2, Summerland
04:53
3.
Mazurka in C-Sharp Minor, Op. 6 No. 2
03:11
4.
Mazurka in C Major, Op. 24 No. 2
02:31
5.
Mazurka in A Minor, Op. 17 No. 4
06:00
6.
Accumulation of Purpose - I. Reveille
04:19
7.
Accumulation of Purpose - II. Ride
01:28
8.
Accumulation of Purpose - III. Reveille
00:47
9.
Accumulation of Purpose - IV. Accumulation of Purpose
04:12
10.
Accumulation of Purpose - V. Reveille
01:02
11.
Accumulation of Purpose - VI. Nocturne
03:17
12.
3 Pieces 'Locations in Time' - No. 1, Other
02:57
13.
3 Pieces 'Locations in Time' - No. 2, Elegy
04:08
14.
3 Pieces 'Locations in Time' - No. 3, Toward Night
05:06
15.
Sacred Spaces - I. Prelude & Chaconne
08:59
16.
Sacred Spaces - II. Hymn (This World Is My Home)
05:13
17.
Amazing Grace (Arr. C. Price Walden for Piano)
03:22

Total time: 01:11:25

Additional information

Artists

Mastering Engineer

Daniel Shores

Genres

,

Label

Qualities

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Channels

Original Recording Format

Digital Converters

Merging Technologies Horus (recording), Hapi (mastering)

Composers

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Mastering Room

Legacy Audio Loudspeakers

Piano

Steinway Model D #590904 (New York)

Piano Technician

John Veitch

Producer

Dan Merceruio

Recording Engineer

Daniel Shores

Recording location

Sono Luminus Studios, Boyce, Virginia, May 14-16, 201

Recording Software

Pyramix

Recording Type & Bit Rate

DXD

SKU

DSL92228

Release Date January 1, 2019
SKU DSL92228

Press reviews

National Sawdust Log

It feels significant that pianist Bruce Levingston titled his latest album Citizen in the singular, and not the plural. The recording was born out of a concert Levingston was invited to perform at the opening of the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum, and it includes the work of four living U.S. composers, an evocative ballade by William Grant Still, and three mazurkas by Frederic Chopin. While all of the works grapple to some degree with issues of citizenship, most feel more concerned with individual, personal stories of belonging than with the large-scale distribution of civic privileges and responsibilities.

C. Price Walden’s Sacred Spaces is a beatific paean to the powerful affirmation that a sense of belonging can bring. Walden writes eloquently in his liner notes about finding safe haven in churches as a gay Christian living and working in Mississippi, and his music is shot through with a potent, fragile relief. A crystalline edifice etched in painful light, Walden’s work is easily the brightest on the album—which is not to say it’s free of strife. The intensity of its devotion is heightened by its unspoken awareness that islands of safety are the exception, not the rule, and that we pray for peace because we spend so much of our lives at war.

Walden’s work feels like a delicate, luminous echo of Nolan Gasser’s American Citizen, which opens the album. American Citizen is a musical evocation of Marie Atkinson Hull’s 1936 oil portrait of John Wesley Washington, a Mississippi man born into slavery in 1847.

Levingston’s playing is lithe and full-voiced throughout. He has an admirable ability to preserve the clarity of each strand in a densely woven contrapuntal texture, crafting a compelling whole without obscuring its parts. His phrasing is subtle, nuanced shadings of tone playing against each other to illuminate the underlying musical structure.

There are relatively few rhythmically propulsive passages on this album, and the general atmosphere of weighty contemplation grows a little stale when you listen through without pause, but Levingston’s expert control keeps the experience from getting too bogged down. Citizen adds to a much-needed conversation, but much more work remains to be done.

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Sono Luminus 47 albums

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