Pianist Bruce Levingston follows up his earlier albums Citizen and Windows with Prelude To Dawn. It is his third DSD release from Sono Luminus, all of which are available from Native DSD Music.
Prelude To Dawn features the interwoven, haunting works of J. S. Bach, Johannes Brahms, and Wolfgang Rihm. In Levingston’s hands, this timeless music exudes solace, joy, and the possibilities of renewed life
Levingston says “During the surreal existence of this past year, I found myself drawn closer than ever to Bach. His music brought much solace and peace. Bach has long been an inspiration to musicians, especially Brahms and Rihm. These three German masters represent a thoughtful dialogue that has spanned four centuries. Their intimate musical landscapes resonate with this pensive, solitary time.
Some works, like Brahms’ wistful chorale prelude, “Herzlich tut mich verlangen” (Op. 122, No. 10), reflect the delicate twilight between life and death. Others, like the glorious Chaconne and joyous Prelude, Fugue and Allegro deny defeat. Perhaps the most timely work is Bach’s “Wachet auf” (Sleepers, Awake). Its memorable chorale, written during the Plague in Germany, was composed by a pastor to comfort his fearful congregation. In Bach’s hands, its noble spirit and soaring themes herald a celebration of life.
Together, these pieces recall the shadows and fragility of our world, but also the possibility for its regeneration — and a new dawn.”
Bruce Levingston – Piano
Total time: 01:01:24
Merging Technolgies Hapi
|Original Recording Format|
Merging Technologies Horus
Sono Luminus Studios, Boyce, Virginia (September 2020)
|Release Date||February 11, 2021|
All About The Arts
Impeccably planned and annotated by the artist, lovingly produced by Dan Merceruio and Collin J. Rae, and brought to sonic life by recording engineer Daniel Shores Prelude to Dawn is an invaluable addition to any listener’s collection of recorded piano music.
The prolific though lesser-known German composer Wolfgang Rihm keeps elegant company to Bach and Brahms with two of his piano preludes. Vaguely tonal, now animated, now delicate, soberly minimalistic, his music is upon first hearing unpredictable and yet surprisingly accessible.
In the monumental Bach-Brahms Chaconne in D minor, BWV 1004, a work originally conceived for violin, Levingston mines for musical gold throughout the seventeen minutes duration of this longest of the nine compositions in the album. Alternatively, mournful, meditative, emotional, and elegiac in its sixty-four variations, this music, written by Bach following the death of his first wife, embraces both the wonders of life and the inevitability of death.
In the Prelude, Fugue and Allegro BWV 998 in Eb – allotted three tracks of the album – seemingly simple moments alternate with the startling: an unpredictable chord progression here and there, passages of such chromatic complexity that they anticipate the Classicism of Haydn and even that of Mozart by decades, emotionally charged moments alternating with serene passages, singing melodies in the right hand juxtaposed to formidable chords in the bass, a majestic closing Allegro expressing sheer joie de vivre… Here Levingston and in the Bach-Busoni Chorale Prelude BWV 645 – Sleepers Awake! adopts reasonable tempi that allow breathing space and noble elegance to his playing.
Brahms – Chorale Prelude in A minor, Op. 122, no. 10 – I wholeheartedly long for a blessed end one of the composer’s last works, and the Theme and Variations in D minor, Op. 18b – both typical Brahms in their grandeur offer music in which the composer seems to be making peace with the inevitable onset of old age, the Op. 18b six variations range from the lovingly delicate to the intensely emotional, gradually progressing from intricacy to the serenity of the final variation.
Bruce Levingston’s magisterial playing of this music reaffirms his position as one of America’s great pianists.
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