Here is a young pianist, still in his late twenties
(b. 1977) of outstanding qualities: technical, interpretive,
and creative - one of his own works being included
on this CD. His profile in the booklet refers to him as Panos,
so this will be used here. He has been taught by magnificent
pianists – Margaret Murray-McLeod at Napier University, then by Murray McLachlan
at the Royal Northern College of Music, Manchester. He is now in the piano class of Prof. Peter Feuchtwanger
at York University where this recording was
made. Panos has dedicated this CD to Chiaraluna Ghidini.
The playing of Brahms’ Three Piano Pieces, Op.
117 (all three are Intermezzi) is truly memorable, with wonderfully
mellow tone, effective use of the pedal, great care in dynamics,
rubato and bringing out the contrasts within and between each
piece. These are deeply sensitive, poetic performances.
This was the first time I had come across Panos’
own music*, and I found it highly original and quite effective,
full of interest and surprises! Each of the four seasons is
represented in these “Farewells” of 2004, headed “ for Margaret,
Murray [= his piano teachers] and those they bid farewell”.
I felt there to be occasional hints of Messiaen’s music, and
there are many sudden and splendid contrasts, as well as a few
passages using effects inside the piano adding to the fascinating
array of sonorities, all superbly performed. Panos wrote the
booklet notes for all the works on the CD, and he makes many
illuminating comments especially on his own “Farewells”.
Mussorgsky’s “Pictures” is so well known that it
needs something extra to make a performance interesting, and
Panos here exceeds all expectations! He makes his presence felt
straightaway with a lively, vigorous opening Promenade, and
he conveys the character of every picture and later “Promenades”
with amazing insight. There’s quite a fast Gnomus, great beauty
in The Old Castle, delicacy and fun in Tuileries and Ballet
of the Chicks. Also notable is the amazing variety of tone,
dynamics and texture in Limoges and Baba Yaga. The Bydlo
is electrifying; the great cart really thunders past in a fantastic
interpretation! An outstanding pianist!
The piano sound and recording quality are also
outstanding. The CD booklet is excellent: Panos’ interesting
and well-written notes have already been mentioned, and there
are good photographs especially in the most impressive front
cover design realised by Michael Pattison.
This CD is extremely highly recommended, especially
to all interested in young pianists!
Panos features on two other CDs on the Dunelm Records’ label,
Piano music by Liszt, Beethoven and Demopoulos (see review)
Music by Cetiz and Demopoulos (see review)