Frank Levin, a contemporary composer of dozens of songs, piano and small ensemble pieces, has come up with his first CD, a retrospective of some of the best of his piano music, beautifully performed by award-winning pianist Scott Pratt. The CD, entitled "Morning to Midnight", includes the suite by that name, six pieces from Frank's "San Francisco Souvenirs", a seasonal cycle, and a variety of other works, including several dedicated to students, family, and friends.
Response to the CD of piano music has been overwhelmingly positive from the many fans who have already purchased it. "I love it. I play it in the car and in the office. It's relaxing, like being on vacation," said Nellie Keate, a realtor who bought the CD and then came back to purchase several more for friends and family at the CD Release Party. Christine Ho, one of Frank's piano students, was not surprised at the positive reception: "I've played a number of the piano works on the CD...and really enjoyed them."
Dick Wahlberg, recording engineer for the project, was full of praise for pianist, Scott Pratt's contribution. "Every take was an honest performance," he told a reporter.
"There is not one throw-away track among the twenty five, and every performance is definitive," said Levin. "We recorded slowly over a two year period-no more than three or four tracks at a session-and Scott rehearsed each selection with me several times before entering the studio to ensure every nuance was perfect. And the accompanying booklet notes help to illuminate details of this often descriptive piano music."
Levin's tuneful, often deeply moving and accessible style of piano writing has gained him considerable acclaim over the years. And listeners have found it suitable for work, study and fine dining in addition to serious listening.
The noted cabaret artist Wesla Whitfield, who sang for the president in a command performance at the White House and regularly plays San Francisco's prestigious Plush Room and the equally legendary Algonquin Room in New York, is among his admirers. Wesla recorded four songs from his long-running musical revue "Never a White Christmas", celebrating the holidays in snowless San Francisco. Her performance of the title song won her a first prize in an original christmas song contest and gained Frank a recording contract.
Frank received much of his formal training at the San Francisco Conservatory, where he studied with Dr. Sol Joseph, Nathan Schwartz, and the now-famous composer John Adams. In addition, he took jazz theory classes with Jim Grantham, and songwriting and arranging lessons with film composer, Gary Remal.
Scott Pratt, a California native, has performed throughout California and much of the United States. He is a frequent solo and chamber music recitalist in San Francisco. Scott has received top prizes in many competitions, including the National Guild of Piano Teachers International Recording Competition, the La Jolla Civic Symphony Competition, and several categories of the San Francisco Concerto Orchestra Competition. He teaches in The San Francisco Conservatory of Music's Preparatory and Extension Division and at Laney College in Oakland.
In commenting about his work on this CD, Scott observed, "I enjoy playing Frank's music because it is expressive, well constructed, pianistic, and accessible to audiences. I believe it should be more widely known, and hopefully this CD will help expand his reputation."
NOTES FOR REVIEWERS
At the request of several reviewers of my CD, Morning to Midnight, I have prepared the following list to help focus on the music that would be of most personal interest since the stylistic influences are so varied:
Classical tracks: 1,2,4,5,6,10,11,13,14,15,16,17,18,19,20,
Ragtime and Jazz tracks: 3,7,21
Popular tracks: 7,8,9,12,14
None of these categories are intended to represent pure types, still I hope they will assist you in your task.
REVIEWS FORWARDED TO THE COMPOSER
1. "I've been enjoying your CD very much. It is charming and well done - nice performances, production and pieces. Congratulations." Tod Brody, San Francisco Chapter Director, American Composers Forum.
2. "If you are interested in some very nice, melodic (piano) pieces that are fun to play, you might try Frank Levin." David Reffkin, Radio Host KUSF "Ragtime Machine".
3. "I am particularily drawn to three of your pieces: Sunset Streetlights, Summer Fog and Autumn - they evoke so much pleasurable imagery for me." Steve Carnine, teacher.
4. "Several of the piano pieces (those of a similar style) are as good as Percy Grainger. In one I enjoy, I hear Ravel. The Prairie Homecoming, so tuneful, has to be one of my favorites. The Taraval Street Rag is also a great piece, one that must rank with the best of that genre, as well as being plain fun." Bill Harmer.
5. "There is a certain subtlty about this music that can grab you, involve you. It is friendly and warm - but not cutesy." Steve Yuan, pianist and guitarist.
6. "At the moment, my favorites are Twilight Aria and Taraval Street Rag." Lillian Laakso, retired symphony violinist.
7. "The music is simply wonderful and the titles just fit every tune that you have written." Frances Theodore.
8. "It's like having you in my living room. I love the cover with the cat. It's so original." Lesley Cramer.
9. "The pianist seems to have a real feel for the mood of each work." Peter Wershof, pianist.
10. "Congratulations. It has been a monumental project and I am so happy and proud that you got this done. It's a wonderful work." George Lynch, CD sound engineer.
11. "Listening to your lovely tunes is a great way to start the day." Tom Keylon.
12. "The CD brought back memories of long lost ideas of music, and a dedication to the magical ability that music has to not only reflect moods but to help change them as well." Mary Palmer, Music Director, High Plains Public Radio.
13 "I enjoyed your CD very much." Julian Armour, Founder and Artistic Director, The Ottawa Chamber Music Society.
For more about Frank, including soundclips of rare recordings of his songs, listings of published sheet music and fake books, photos, artwork and practicing hints, see his website www.franklevincomposer.com, or e-mail him directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.