Arthur Levering (b. 1953) has throughout his career written music that stresses clarity and lightness of touch, even when it is dense with information or intense in its sonic impact. There’s a marvelous athleticism to Levering’s music. His rhythmic sense is unerring, and probably does more than anything else to clarify and drive his ideas. Changes of texture, tempo, and harmony all occur just where they should, and keep up the momentum. One thing that makes him exceptional among composers who feel an allegiance to modernism is his transparent orchestration. It’s more than just a glittering surface; his choice of color and texture is as important a structural tool in the music’s development as any other parameter.
Still Raining, Still Dreaming (1996, rev. 2001), scored for “Pierrot” sextet, is a memorial tribute to the Japanese master Toru Takemitsu, as the presence of both “rain” and “dream” in the title suggests. Echoi (1999), a three-movement work for violin and piano, is not the expected traditional sonata. The “echoes” of the title seem to exist on multiple levels. One feels cross-references of ideas from one movement to another and the extensive use of repetitive motives is another sort of “reverberance.” Sppooo (2001) is a piece that makes you wonder why there isn’t already a literature for celesta and vibraphone. Tesserae for viola and piano (2002) is a set of variations on a 32-note theme. While a close cousin of Still Raining, Still Dreaming, with its measured tremolo, sharp low thuds, and tolling center section, those similarities in fact demonstrate how a composer can develop a set of devices that s/he then recycles creatively from one work to another. Catena (2000) is a work for piano and a chamber orchestra of sixteen players.
Nicholas Kitchen, violin; Scott Woolweaver, viola; John McDonald, piano; Fumito Nunoya, vibraphone; Donald Berman, piano, celesta; Dinosaur Annex Music Ensemble; Dinosaur Annex Chamber Orchestra; Scott Wheeler, conductor