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Franz LISZT (1811-1886) Nuages Gris (Grey clouds) 1881 [3:45]; La lugubre gondola I (The funeral gondola I) 1882 [4:07]; Unstern (Evil star) 1880-1886 [5:35]; Vallée díObermann (1848-1854) [15:24];
Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827) Sonata No.30 in E major, Op.109 [20:51];
Panayiotis DEMOPOULOS (b.1977) Tetractys for solo piano 2000 [8:18]
Panayiotis Demopoulos, piano.
rec. Whiteley Hall, Chethamís School of Music, Long Millgate, Manchester, 18 April, 28 May 2003.

Panayiotis Demopoulos, born in Greece, has studied in Britain in recent years and as can be heard from this well recorded disc has made considerable progress as pianist and composer.

The centre-piece of this varied recital is Beethovenís superb late E Major Sonata, Op.109 (my own personal favourite among Beethovenís 32), thoughtfully played; but it is the Liszt which is of particular interest. Vallée díObermann is early Liszt (published in Paris in 1840 but revised in the early 1850s), one of the Swiss group of the Années de Pélerinage travelogues and makes enjoyable listening. It calls for strong and secure technique but is more than a display piece and has considerable emotional depth. Even more stimulating are the three short movements from the early 1880s which are almost incredibly forward-looking. Nuages Gris (Grey Clouds) is appropriately misty, not merely Impressionist but in effect atonal; Unstern (Evil Star) is fiercer, sinister even, but again of ambiguous tonality while the tragic La Lugubre Gondola, played here in what I take to be the second of its two versions, anticipates Debussy by maybe two decades. Perhaps all three, but certainly Nuages Gris are best programmed with at least moderately avant-garde 20th century music (as I recall happening years ago in one of the Doncaster Museum lunch-hour concerts I organise).

Nuages indeed is the starting point to Demopoulosís own Tetractys, a set of variations on a tone row derived from the Liszt piece. This tone row theme, entitled Nuages Noir, emerges at the end of the four well contrasted variations, the whole taking around eight minutes in all. The treatment is serial and though there are traces of lyricism in the third, slow, variation, the piece makes few concessions to the average listener. Nevertheless I will watch Mr. Demopoulosís future development, as a composer and performer, with interest.

Philip L. Scowcroft

see also review by Patrick Gary

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