The following recordings feature some of the works that have been commissioned by Premiere Commission. These CDs are available through Amazon, iTunes and other online retailers.
Pianist Bruce Levingston has had a long and celebrated association with Philip Glass and his music. In 2004, the composer wrote his musical tribute to the painter Chuck Close especially for Levingston who premiered the work at New York City's Lincoln Center. The following year, Glass joined Levingston in the same venue for a series of piano duos in a concert that also featured Levingston's longtime friend and Chelsea Hotel neighbor actor Ethan Hawke. At that concert, Levingston and Hawke performed Glass's "Wichita Vortex Sutra" that includes a narration of Allen Ginsberg's eponymous poem. Glass and Ginsberg had performed and recorded it themselves, but the composer enthusiastically blessed this performance by a new generation of artists. Glass, Hawke and Levingston then performed together the finale of Einstein on the Beach. Glass later invited Levingston to join him in premiering his complete Etudes at The Brooklyn Academy of Music in New York City in 2014.
Now this extraordinary group of artists is reunited in this Sono Luminus release of Bruce Levingston's new album Dreaming Awake. Levingston pays tribute to Philip Glass with an exploration of his works that spans the length of the composer's career. The recording includes the world premiere of "The Illusionist Suite", ten of the composer's dramatic and deeply moving Etudes (including Etude No. 12 commissioned by Premiere Commission), as well as the richly colored tone poems "Dreaming Awake", "Metamorphosis No. 2" and "Wichita Vortex Sutra" featuring Ethan Hawke as guest artist reading the Allen Ginsberg poem.
This new 2-disc album radiates with what what The New York Times calls "Mr Levingston's mastery of nuance and color" and "his extraordinary gifts as a colorist and performer who can hold attention rapt with the softest playing" (MusicWeb International). It is a very intimate and personal tribute of the most influential and acclaimed composers of our era.
Heavy Sleep by Bruce Levingston
The title "Heavy Sleep" is meant to reference not only the eponymous opening work on this Album, but also to note the phrase's allusion to death and eternal sleep. Each work on this album relates either directly or spiritually to the theme of death, rebirth, or both. Voices of other composers or allusions to their own or others' works are also found throughout these pieces, often appearing as subtle homage to composers of the past: In the Andres work there are echos of both Bach and Chopin; in the Fairouz a direct tribute to Ligeti; in the Kurtag, Reger and Siloti arrangements there are reflections on Bach through the art of transcription; and in the original works of Bach himself, particularly in the great B minor Fugue, symbolic voices of God and man. Together, these works offer a touching perspective to the close spiritual connectivity we all share as artists and as human beings, culture to culture, past and present.
As I first listened to this collection of intimate, gentle music, I kept thinking how much it evokes a feeling of timelessness and stillness. From the minimal sounds of Arvo Part and Erik Satie to the reflective pieces of Augusta Gross and William Bolcom, each work, their harmonic and rhythmic movement notwithstanding, suggests a kind of spiritual stasis. Even the Romantic works of Schubert and Chopin, with their moments of surging emotion, possess magical, hypnotic qualities that lull the listener into a state of calm. The consistent impression of tranquility and serenity in these beautiful works led me to call this album Still Sound. - Bruce Levingston
The idea of titling this CD Nightbreak occurred to me when I realized, quite unconsciously, that I had assembled and recorded a number of works that vividly display the light and darkness of the human soul. From the dramatic sound-portraits of Franz Liszt's powerful and moving Vallee d'Obermann and Brahms anguished "Edward" Ballade to Philip Glass's brilliant and thrilling "Dracula Suite", these works capture a panoramic range of human feelings and emotions. The shifting shadows of the mind and spirit are also revealed in the poetic nocturnes and waltzes by Liszt, Brahms and Wolfgang Rihm, as well as Liszt's magnificent, impressionistic Les jeux d'eaux a la Villa d'Este, a tour de force of color and chiaroscuro in sound. Heard altogether, this collection reminded me of that moment when day meets night, when the spectrums of the sun and moon mingle together with a mysterious, nuanced and haunting palette, what I call "nightbreak". -Bruce Levingston
The written word has always played an important role in the creation of works of music, from the ancient writings of Plato, Aristotle and Sophocles, to Gogol, Baudelaire and Tolstoy, through modern writers and poets such as Frost, Eliot, Joyce, and Mann. The three works presented on this album were each inspired by a work of literature. Rather than depicting actual characters, each piece presents a state of mind and soul, a distilled essence of the feelings and emotions found in the original sources. The Schumann is, of course, one of the masterpieces of the piano repertoire; it's depth and beauty endless. It's inspiration came from the Romantic work of E.T. A. Hoffman. The Bielawa and Wuorinen works, both written by two of today's most distinguished and important composers, were inspired by works of Rainer Maria Rilke and Salman Rushdie. These three works, like their creators and muses, could not be more different in compositional style and techniques. Yet, for all of their differences, outwardly as well as inwardly, they seem to share a spiritual unity. Perhaps the basic humanity that is central to each piece somehow joins them musically and artistically. In any case, their beauty, vision and eloquence speak for themselves.
In 2006, Orange Mountain Music released Bruce Levingston's CD "Portraits" featuring the world premiere recording of Philip Glass's A Musical Portrait of Chuck Close originally commissioned by Premiere Commission, Inc. The recording, which includes Glass's musical forebears Messiaen, Ravel and Satie, received international critical acclaim.