Piano Phantoms is Michael Lewin's 2013 collection of 18 character pieces based on spectral themes. Some of the selections are by familiar classical composers and musical notables, such as Franz Schubert, Edvard Grieg, Robert Schumann, Antonin Dvorák, Sergey Lyapunov, Nicolai Medtner, and Eugène Goossens, and their pieces evoke the supernatural with a mix of Romantic moodiness and virtuosic flair. (One might ask, why is there nothing by Franz Liszt, that master of the macabre?) Of the modern composers represented, William Bolcom is easily the best known for his easygoing Graceful Ghost Rag, and this is without doubt the most engaging track of the album. The program includes music by fairly obscure figures, such as Walter Niemann, Carl Tausig, Carlos Troyer, Heino Kaski, John Vallier, Harry Farjeon, Florence Price, Edgar Bainton, Ferdinand Hiller, and Julie Rivé-King, though that's no reason to overlook their generally effective depictions of ghostly entities, several of which are recorded here for the first time. A number of pieces are dances, for some reason almost always for goblins, so there are familar rhythms in waltz time and lively displays of pianistic techniques, of which Lewin proves himself quite capable. While this is a worthwhile airing of spooky repertoire that has been neglected for the most part, and much of it is quite charming, nothing here is particularly disturbing or likely to haunt listeners, so listen without fear.
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AllMusic Review by Blair Sanderson
|Etudes (12) D'Execution Transcendente, for piano, Op. 11|
|Second Improvisation for piano, Op. 47|
|Kaleidescope, for piano, Op. 18|