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Dunelm Records

Johannes BRAHMS (1833-1897)
Three pieces – piano, Op.117 (1892)
No. 1: Intermezzo in E flat [4:37]
No. 2: Intermezzo in B flat minor [4:14]
No. 3: Intermezzo in C sharp minor [6:09]
Panayiotis DEMOPOULOS (b.1977)
Farewells for piano (2004)
I. Summer farewell [1:35]
II. Spring farewell [2:51]
III. Winter farewell [1:07]
IV. Autumn farewell [1:38]
Modest MUSSORGSKY (1839-1881)
Pictures at an exhibition (1874) (Original version edited by Paul Lamm) [30:55]
Panayiotis Demopoulos (piano)
rec. The Sir Jack Lyons Concert Hall, Music Dept., University of York, Heslington, York, 20-21 July 2005. DDD
DUNELM DRD0251 [53:06]

 

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!

Ian Milnes

 

* Panos features on two other CDs on the Dunelm Records’ label, viz.

DRD0213: Piano music by Liszt, Beethoven and Demopoulos (see review)

DRD0214: Music by Cetiz and Demopoulos (see review)

 

 

 

 


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