Bruce Levingston

Heavy Sleep

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The stated aims of this release by pianist Bruce Levingston are a little obscure. He writes that each piece "relates either directly or spiritually to the theme of death, rebirth, or both," and that "together, these works offer a touching perspective on the close spiritual connectivity we all share as artists and as human beings ...." Those two things aren't really connected with each other, nor with the album title, Heavy Sleep, the name of the curtain-raiser by American composer Timo Andres. Yet once listeners get past the abstractions and into the music, things are fine. The arresting little Andres nocturne and the final El Male Rachamim of American Mohammed Fairouz, a tribute to György Ligeti, surround a group of Bach pieces, three of them arranged (one of them by Kurtág). This combination seems odd, but this is an old-fashioned Bach piano recital with a frame that imparts to the music a very dreamy mood, making Bach seem almost an impressionist while giving a good deal of weight to a pair of interesting contemporary compositions. This is not going to be everyone's cup of tea, and the unvarying mood might induce the phenomenon named in the title among unsympathetic listeners. But the album has an X factor of sheer originality working in its favor, and the studio sound from the adventurous American label Sono Luminus is ideally suited to what Levingston is trying to accomplish.

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