GENERAL REVIEWS

Gerald Levinson’s orchestration and instrumentation are admirable. His style, combining a highly expanded modern tonality with memories of the metallophones of Bali, is very beautiful, very original, sometimes powerful, always moving.
—Olivier Messiaen, Music and Color

… there’s no denying [his] ornate, spell-casting music has potent sensual appeal.
—Mark Lehman, American Record Guide

… an imaginative explorer of sonic landscapes and visionary epiphanies.
—Mark Lehman, American Record Guide

Levinson remains, moment by moment, sheerly gorgeous, with shimmering, iridescent harmonies and plush-velvet melodi[es] that spin on and on into the silence, like pyrotechnics against the night sky, decelerated into the slowest of slow motions.
—Mark Lehman, American Record Guide

The listener first introduced to the music of Gerald Levinson will almost surely be struck by the fact that his is an artistic voice that will not be contained by any of the factionalized ‘isms’ which have dominated our contemporary musical landscape in recent decades.
—Steven Johnson, The Los Angeles Philharmonic Times

Gerald Levinson’s world is very much his own, a world of superb orchestral brilliance, vivid gesture, strong, pliable rhythm and long-reaching form… One might feel even that he has not invented but discovered the finest of his works as relics of an ancient civilization might be unexpectedly discovered in some jungle.
—Paul Griffiths


for ANĀHATA

A masterpiece.
—Olivier Messiaen, Music and Color

… signals a larger harmony of eastern and western musical thought.
—Paul Griffiths, The Times, London

A quarter century and more has passed since I heard Gerald Levinson’s Anāhata performed by Simon Rattle’s City of Birmingham Symphony, conducted by High Wolff, and a lot more music has entered my ears since then; and yet the thrill of that performance—of the sound, of the shape—has stayed with me. The piece is, beyond all question, one of the major musical achievements of the 1980s. As I wrote at the time in the London Times, this is a work that “signals a larger harmony of eastern and western musical thought.” As such, it has an important place in a project that continues to unfold, and that we urgently need to continue unfolding, of understanding where apparently diverse traditions and modes of thought meet. By no means is this a matter only for musicians. But musicians can help show the way.
—Paul Griffiths

… impressed for its mighty sonorities, long breathed melodies, and often glorious percussion racket, inspired by music of Bali and North India.
—Bill Zakariasen, New York Daily News

A rich, colorful, and substantial composition… melismatic cries of hard, bright outline from clustered woodwinds; slow harmonic progress through deep, lush added-note chords; the crash and peal of gongs and bells… shimmering aftertones… well proportioned,
—Andrew Porter, The New Yorker

Gerald Levinson’s Anāhata: Symphony No. 1 is an exuberant 30-minute work of tremendous inventions and aural seductiveness… with its utter sincerity and clear-skied, all encompassing horizons, this symphony, quite literally, ravishes you. When the final notes faded away it was Leonard Bernstein who led the standing ovation.
—Anthony Tommasini, Boston Globe

With its thick, clangorous sounds, its pungent combinations of double reeds and other instruments, its rhythmic pulsation and its air of concentrated repose, Anāhata is utterly original and, more important, highly communicative. Anāhata projects a sense of something right.
—Ray Cooklis, The Cincinnati Enquirer

A work of genius.
—Alan Hovhaness


for AVATAR

… explores the emotional value of tension and release. After the initial clouds disperse, almost everything else sounds like supreme sweetness… cosmic quality.
—Peter Dobrin, Philadephia Inquirer

… this lively piece had an aptly festive air… pointed orchestral textures and earthly percussion effects.
—George Loomis, Financial Times, London


for BLACK MAGIC/WHITE MAGIC

… a garland of 12 little tone poems… nstrumentally exotic and ingenious… Certainly it had a fresh, strong sensuous charge.
—Richard Buell, Boston Globe

… 11 elliptical songs to an instrumental backdrop that shows the strength of the single instruments. Colors flow through this music, which accumulates mood through its references to Bali’s music.
—Daniel Webster, Philadephia Inquirer

Here and there one feels whiffs of a Balinese mode of flute or gamelan, but mostly this is personable, intensely pictorial Western music that serves the evocative poetry of Nanine Valen—the composer’s wife—very well indeed.
—John Rockwell, New York Times

Levinson seemed to revel in the color of those forces, creating big moments and flashing shafts of sound.
—Daniel Webster, Philadephia Inquirer


for CHANT DES ROCHERS

Levinson is particularly gifted at creating harmonies whose voicings and intervals (and extensive use of winds as coloring) take on the quality of exotic ‘meta-instruments.’ It’s almost as though the whole ensemble were a single, large instrument playing in a wholly natural, yet alternative, tuning.
—Robert Carl, Fanfare


for DREAMLIGHT

… demonstrates his ability to create whole and convincing musical worlds between Western soul-searching and Oriental (Balinese) joy.
—Paul Griffiths, New York Times

Levinson’s distinctive voice makes his music immediately attractive, but with deep resonance that invites continued investigation.
—Daniel Webster, Philadephia Inquirer


for DUO (WINDS OF LIGHT)

… engaging…
—Peter Dobrin, Philadephia Inquirer

… a beautiful piece of chamber music that creates many a mood that lingers long after the music has ceased.
—Michael Caruso, News of Delaware County


for FIVE FIRES

… a huge orchestral palette with dense scoring and motifs based on a Balinese scale. At times, the orchestra sounds like a gigantic gamelan, with all the gongs, bells and other percussion. It’s an exuberant work with great spirit…
—Melinda Bargreen, Seattle Times


for THE MORNING OF THE WORLD

… a strongly colored tour of the sonority and mood of some Balinese musical expression. His wide range of enthralling percussion sounds—gongs and chiming metallic shimmers—complete the picture.
—Daniel Webster, Philadephia Inquirer


for IN DARK

Shadowy, veiled, and mysterious… the arcing finale has the timelessness of the ‘Ewig’s’ in Das Lied.
—Benjamin Pernick, Fanfare

… brimmed with melodic fervor, beguiling lyricism and instrumental color.
—Daniel Webster, Philadephia Inquirer

Atmospheric and evocative.
—American Record Guide

… a brooding, moody piece of considerable beauty.
—Peter Dobrin, Philadephia Inquirer


for RAGAMALIKA

… one part Debussy and one part North Indian, and an exhilarating show of virtuosity.
—Peter Dobrin, Philadephia Inquirer

[it] began with a beautifully spare series of notes sounded in octaves, so meditative and widely spaced as to suggest ripples on a pond.
—David Patrick Stearns, Philadephia Inquirer

… un grand sens des couleurs et des rythmes.
—Didier van Moere, concertonet.com


for SEA CHANGES

Just as the sea itself is music, Levinson’s work is not merely music, but also a state of mind, of sensing with your whole being… The rocking waves, splashing foam, sounds of ships and gulls—he very speech of the sea—are relived.
—Sharon McDaniel, Rochester Democrat & Chronicle

… attractive, bracing piece…
—Jay Harvey, Indianapolis Star


for SYMPHONY NO. 2

It is in the third movement… where a kernel of human drama and tragedy is introduced, that engages the listener beyond a mere contemplative admiration. This is a beautiful, moving movement in which Levinson’s gifts seem at their full power.
—Scott Duncan, The Orange County Register


for TIME AND THE BELL . . . 

Levinson’s “Time and the Bell” draws on Balinese gamelan sounds and the rhythms of Indian raga, to pungent effect.
—John von Rhein, Chicago Tribune

Levinson’s colorful and approachable new work… covers an impressively broad range of expression and dynamism with polished economy.
—Peter Burwasser, Citypaper

Levinson’s piece, full of bell sounds and brimming with Asian atmospheres, was a swift conflation of musical styles of two worlds… an intriguing Western take on Indian thought.
—Daniel Webster, Philadephia Inquirer

A rare gem… Levinson’s imaginative writing and colorful instrumental timbres conjure up vivid imagery… The result is a meditative, thought-provoking (and mood-evoking) journey whose six movements take the listener through a seemingly endless array of irresistible, modal flavors.
—David Abrams, The Syracuse Post-Standard


for TOWARD LIGHT 

… splashes of color… rich in astringent dissonance.
—James Oestreich, New York Times

… a huge but alluring array of ideas and timbres…
—David Patrick Stearns, Philadelphia Inquirer

Gerald Levinson’s “Toward Light” was the most satisfying performance of the organ-extravaganza program. Its angular, colour-rich spectrum captivated from the opening measures.
—S. James Wegg, www.jamesweggreview.org

… full of arresting, modernistic sonorities… in a firm rhythmic framework.
—George Loomis, Financial Times, London


for TRIO

Its 7-minutes opening superimposes fast, skittery figures over slow, plangent bell-sounds, managing to be both active and agitated yet at the same time evoke a distant vista of unchanging timelessness. This remarkable movement, distant kin to the dazzling “Crystal Liturgy” that begins Messiaen’s Quartet for the End of Time, exhibits Levinson’s genuine gifts at their best and remains in memory to haunt the mind’s ear.
—Mark Lehman, American Record Guide

[Levinson] gave the clarinet a range of sonority from a low, husky call to sweet stratospheric melodies in which he vied with harmonics on the cello. The rhythmic vitality of the music brought boldly colored playing from all three.
—Daniel Webster, Philadephia Inquirer

Mr. Levinson’s trio, which includes a dreamy chorale sequence embellished with glassy harmonies, is richly and imaginatively scored and skillfully put together.
—Joseph Horowitz, New York Times

… the first work I have heard by Gerald Levinson, but I sincerely hope it will not be the last…
—Kari F. Miller, American Record Guide

A captivating piece that combines a Crumb-like command of delicate, beautiful timbres and a sure sense of form.
—Andrew Porter, The New Yorker

… almost surreal impressionistic moods… potently expressive…
—Peter G. Davis, New York Times


for TWO POEMS for Orchestra

Quite primal in its outer sections, Levinson expertly suggests the Hautes Alpes’ craggy peaks and glaciers. And he hints at the landscape’s soft beauty by way of the crystalline sounds of the harp and bells. The incorporation of the piano into this orchestral work is superb. Its role as a percussion instrument is clearly defined by the composer’s separation of winds and percussion in color as well as groupings.
—Laurie Hudicek, New Music Connoisseur

The two-part Levinson premiere was a craggy, 16-minute nature-evoking soundscape that showed real capability in handling large instrumental forces.
—Robert Kimball, The New York Post

… a most atmospheric listening experience… The score is not only very evocative—it’s also a model of colorful yet always tasteful orchestration. This is obviously some… music which is well worth hearing again.
—Bill Zakariasen, The New York Daily News