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Thursday, March 10, 2011

Aleyson Scopel – Live In Concert

Aleyson Scopel – Live In Concert
2010, Aleyson Scopel
Aleyson Scopel is one of the brightest musical lights to come out of Brazil in recent memory.  A graduate of the prestigious New England Conservatory of Music, Scopel has performed on five continents and one a host of awards and distinctions along the way.  In 2008, Scopel embarked on his first cross-country tour of Brazil, earning critical acclaim at each stop along the way.  2010 saw the release of Scopel’s debut album, Live In Concert, a collection of pieces written by Scarlatti, Mozart, Schumann and Jose Antonio Rezende de Almeida Prado.
Scopel opens with “Sonata in C# minor” (K. 247, L.256,P.297), a pensive, single-movement composition written by Domenico Scarlatti in 1757.  In spite of its thoughtful nature, Scopel infuses moments of wonder and beauty with the occasional wisp of mischievous glee.  Scarlatti could be sitting on Scopel’s shoulder here for all of the inspired grace that Scopel brings out of the moment.  It’s a gorgeous opener, and the crowd on the recording is more than appreciative.  “Adagio in B minor” (K.540), finds Scopel exploring each cranny of one of Mozart’s more unique compositions with deliberate care.  Ranging in style from passages that border on pop to dramatic changes involving suspensions and diminished sevenths, “Adagio in B minor” is one of Mozart’s most unusual compositions.  It is one of only two pieces he wrote in B minor, and has long been a jumping off point for classical music fans into discussions about philosophy and meaning in music.
“Rondo in A minor” (K. 511) was composed by Mozart in 1787, and is edgy and nervous throughout.  Scopel captures the power of Mozart’s rolling arpeggios seven minutes into the piece, a joyous if conflicted counter to the sadness or grief of the opening and the gorgeous theme that infuses the composition.  Scopel nearly seems to channel Mozart here, as he plays with a love and reverence that are hard to imagine, much less recreate.  “Cartas Celestias (Celestial Maps)”, written by Brazilian composer Jose Antonio Rezende de Almeida Prado, is a violent, neo-classical explosion that occasionally subsides into coherence.  This is a difficult listen, full of dissonance and the crashing, haranguing chords of a pediatric piano student’s temper tantrums.  Scopel plays it perfectly, but it’s still difficult to digest if this style is not your cup of tea.
Robert Schumann’s “Fantasy in C major” (Op. 17) is offered up in complete form, with Scopel giving life to all three movements and their disparate moods.  “Durchaus Fantastisch Und Leidenschaftlich Vorzutragen; Im Legenden-Ton” has a cascading feel, and is highly complex and full of movement.  Schumann’s passion can be felt in every rise and fall, yet Scopel imbues it with a dreamy sensibility that offers a more complex view of Schumann’s vision.  Mäßig. Durchaus energisch” combines elements of doxological hymns and grand music hall pastiche with the majesty of a march.  This is a playful and fun piece with great energy, and Scopel is technically brilliant in the process.  “Langsam Getragen.  Durchweg Leise Zu Halten” is slow and meditative, countering moments of melancholy with uplifting passages and resolutions.  Scopel sets the mood here perfectly, and seems a master at emoting through the piano.
Technical brilliance is a rare, learned skill at the piano, developed through hours of painstaking practice.  Also in rare supply are those artists who take on the piano as an extension of themselves and their emotions, using the instrument to communication in much the same way that facial expressions illuminate the words of every day speech.  Rarer still is the artist who can combine both qualities at once.  Aleyson Scopel does so admirably.  Live In Concert shows the pianist in the most difficult setting to get both right.  On stage, anything can, and invariably will, happen.  Scopel shows that he has the technical skill to recreate perfectly anything he chooses, but also ability to not simply recreate those pieces, but reanimate them.  Live In Concert is sub-par from a recording standpoint.  The sounds levels are too low and may not stand up to the demanding tastes of the classical music elite, but Scopel’s work so exceeds convention that even the stuffiest classical music fan will be drawn in.
Rating: 5 Stars (Out of 5)
Learn more about Aleyson Scopel at In Concert is available digitally from and iTunes.  If you prefer your music on CD, the album is also available in traditional and digital formats from

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