Nick PEROS (b.1963)
Soliloquies
Poeme no.1, for solo piano [2:54]
Poeme no.2, for solo piano [1:28]
Poeme no.3, for solo piano [1:17]
Poeme no.6, for solo piano [1:23]
Poeme no.8, for solo piano [2:41]
*Eden, for solo flute, op.1 (1987) [8:03]
Suite no.1, for solo cello [13:14]
Linda Shumas (piano)
Virginia Markson (flute)
Simon Fryer (cello)
rec. No details given. DDD. *AAD
PHOENIX RECORDS PHX 01201 [31:00] 

This is the third CD by Canadian composer Nick Peros. It is strikingly short. 31 minutes, even at mid price, is a bit of a cheek. The review disc has no barcode, and at the time of writing is only available through iTunes and Amazon, where it is a good deal cheaper.
 
In an even more striking throwback to the early days of compact disc, one of the tracks is in AAD quality - or more accurately, AAD lack of quality. Eden, for solo flute, appears to be a decent piece of music - tunefully atmospheric and mysterious. It’s a real work-out for flautist Virginia Markson but the constant background of static robs it of most of its lustre. No explanation is given in the booklet for this aberration. As "one of Canada’s most successful independent record producers", Peros should never have okayed this piece for inclusion. It would surely have been little trouble to find a flautist to re-record it in acceptable sound.
 
Audio quality is not that impressive in the five fleeting Poemes either, where the piano is too closely miked, giving a slightly clangorous sound. The Poemes (no diacritics in the titles, apparently) are played by Linda Shumas, who recorded them previously for her own CD, 'Paradise Reborn', in 2006. In fact, this may well be the very same recording, as no information as to the wheres and the whens have been provided by Peros. One or two of the pieces have a New Age kind of feel to them, particularly the minimalistic first - the "beautifully unexpected harmonic twists" promised in the notes never materialise. Others are more interesting, but never much more than agreeable salon pieces. Again the notes are over-emphatic in their insistence on the music's depth, complexity and beauty, something not borne out by audition.
 
As a matter of fact, Peros is given an almost hagiographic write-up both in the notes and on his website. Phrases like "wide acclaim", "high international profile", "style characterised by great expressiveness", "born out of a unique and original artistic vision" are strewn about like roses, yet the author remains anonymous in both cases. Could Peros himself be the hidden hand? If not, why not name the author?
 
It is not that Peros's music is bad - that is not the case. The Poemes may not be anything to write home about, but they are attractive enough in their low-key way to warrant inclusion as encore material by any number of pianists. The five-movement Suite for solo cello, clearly modelled on those of J.S. Bach, actually has quite a lot going for it - it is tonal with plenty of vivid chromatic colour, animated, virtuosic, varied, stylishly performed by Simon Fryer and at last a high-calibre recording. Eden, as mentioned above, is all but ruined by its audio quality, but is otherwise worthy of anyone's time.
 
The fact remains, however, that this CD contains barely 23 minutes of serviceable music. This is Peros's first release in more than five years - if he is a "prolific composer [...] fluent in symphonic, orchestral, choral, vocal and chamber genres", as the booklet states, how can such a shortfall be accounted for?
 
Byzantion
Collected reviews and contact at reviews.gramma.co.uk
 
Attractive enough in a low-key way.