Panayiotis Demopoulos: Brahms, Demopoulos and Mussorgsky

review demopoulos x1 cong

It’s not the usual comparison but this CD reminds us of Rob da Bank’s old 5am show on Radio One, aimed at people who’ve been up all night at a discotheque (as they don’t call them), and need some chill-out music to bring them down to a point where they can sleep. Clearly classical piano and electronic chill-out are generally different, although Volker Bertelmann, German pianist and composer who mainly performs under the name Hauschka and is best known for his piano, did feature among the electronica around the time his Ferndorf album (2008) came out.

This CD opens with Brahms’s Three Intermezzi, which, like an Ibiza chill-out track, have a mellow tone and calm the brain; it’s more the mental effect they have than the sound that provoked the comparison.

Demopoulos’s own music follows, the opening section of Summer Farewell a percussive contrast to the Brahms; it’s not jarring, just not the Brahms. In the sleeve notes Demopoulos says of the whole piece, Farewells for Piano, that while the music is clear of meaning, it’s not complex. Think of frantic, noisy farewells and then the reflective walking away after departure.

Mussorgsky’s Pictures takes up most of the programme, and while you can never have too much Pictures, Demopoulos wants to make an impression with his version, which he does with a bold but sparse version. It’s lively and perhaps got a bit more brio to it than the last piano version we reviewed (Giacomo Scinardo).

This recording was originally made by Dunelm Records on limited release in 2005 and is now re-released at mid-price.

Demopoulos was born in Athens in 1977, studied with Margaret Murray-McLeod in Edinburgh before moving to Manchester and studying piano with Murray McLachlan.

Out on Diversions, DDV 24166

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