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Classical Music Review

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The John Psathas Percussion Project: Vol. 1


Composer: John Psathas
Label: Navona Records
RRP: £13.99
Release Date: 25 January 2019

Navona Records bring us The John Psathas Percussion Project: Vol. 1. The pieces here draw inspiration from a wide range of sources. 'Corybas' was built around a particular dance groove found in Macedonia, and 'Piano Quintet' is reflective of the work of composers ranging from Arvo Pärt to Johann Sebastian Bach. 'Drum Dances' is heavily influenced by the drumming style of Dave Weckl, while the virtuoso keyboard duo 'Jettatura' is inspired by an incredibly unlucky trip by the composer to his homeland of Greece...

Percussion is not usually my instrument of choice. The thought of listening to an entire album of percussion only compositions left me apprehensive. What John Psathas delivers here is nothing short of incredible. Of course the piano is classified as percussion, so a lot of the highlights of this release rely on employing that instrument to really ramp up the emotional aspect. The end of 'Piano Quintet - I' perfectly illustrates that.

The vibraphone and marimba take centre stage on the three-part 'Muisca', which was interesting as they're both instruments that are rarely centre stage. 'Matre's Dance' sees the focus shift to a fast pace drumming sequence, while 'Aegean' is a more trippy, dream like piece.

For percussionists out there, this is an essential purchase. It beautifully illustrates the diversity that the percussion section of the orchestra is capable of.


Darren Rea

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