7 Songs, 24 Minutes

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5.0 out of 5
1 Rating

1 Rating

Johanan Rakkav ,

Historically Informed... or historically inspired?

There are - so far as I know - exactly two lyre players (out of a surprising number out there) who have made their instrument and the music they play on it transcend any given genre. One is the long-world-renowned Luis Paniagua of Spain. The other is that relentless up-and-comer, Michael Levy of the UK. And if Michael keeps on going as he is, I think he and Luis will increasingly be mentioned by *cognoscenti music critics in the same paragraph.
Michael presently collaborates with Lutherios Musical Instruments in Greece, using their carefully reconstructed editions of ancient Greek lyres. This album features the second tortoise-shell lyre which Michael has received from his donors. It has a fine and fascinating sound, one that is clean and crisp. My favorite work on Michael's latest album is the first track, "The Golden Age of Pericles". I care not at all what the ancient Greek philosophers, least of all Plato, would think of me for preferring the delightful mode that piece is in.
Michael's reviewers often either mistake his music as "Historically Informed Performance" (that is sort of a buzz phrase in early music circles these days), or else deride his music because what they do themselves is, at least in their own eyes, "HIP-per than thou". The fact is Michael's music, which is largely improvised using documented compositional, tuning, and playing techniques, is best described as "historically inspired". He manifestly doesn't seek to "reconstruct" ancient music, but rather to breathe new life into it for the modern age. The more he goes on, the better he gets at doing so. I can hardly wait to hear what he does with a kithara, once he gets one!

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