There are piano players and then there are pianists like Beth Levin who fit into a different category entirely. Levin won’t be playing “Sweet Home Alabama” at local pubs with a mediocre rock band anytime soon. At the age of twelve she was already considered a prodigy and made her debut with the Philadelphia Orchestra. She would go on to learn from legendary pianists such as Rudolf Serkin, Leonard Shure, Dorothy Taubman, and Paul Badura-Skoda.
She went on to accomplish many things in her career but the latest is the release of PERSONAE which presents works from Frédéric Chopin (1810-1849), Anders Eliasson (1947-2013), and Robert Schumann (1810-1856).
If you are a fan of music in general I find it hard for someone to not at the very least appreciate the compositions that Levin performs. There is such a high degree of technical precision throughout PERSONAE that the rest of us mere mortals have to listen with a sense of awe. There is so much dynamic range within these pieces between the flourishing abundance of notes that it makes you realize the almost infinite capabilities of this instrument we call the piano.
I will say if you aren't familiar with classical music that this album may take some patience. There are no hooks, no flair and it doesn’t feature the hottest rapper that the kids are listening into these days. In addition to that some of the songs such as “Disegno 2” are dissonant, jagged and on the verge of ominous sounding.
If there was ever a difficult song to dance to it may be the songs on this album. Take for instance “Piano Sonata No. 2 in B-Flat Minor, Op. 35 "Funeral March": I. Grave - Doppio movimento” which feels sporadic like you're a doll being jerked back and forth in a tornado. That being said I think it would be cool to see a choreographed dance routine.
PERSONAE is the antithesis of what mainstream music is in almost any form present to us these days. Instead of being at one consistent loud volume, it’s dynamic; Instead of relying on a repetitive hook it presents us with an ever changing myriad of notes that will be really hard to sing in the shower and last but not least may take your attention and patience to truly appreciate.
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