February 16, 2007

Atlantic Crossing / Rhapsodic Images

Composer: Peter Scott Lewis Producer: Lapis Island Records: LIR002 © & ℗ 2004

Publisher: Theodore Presser Company
Cover Photo: Rondal Partridge

Recording Engineer: Robert Shumaker, Bay Recordings, Berkeley, CA

Track Listings

1. An Awakening, Bright Morning!
2. Scenes of Passion, Traveling Music
3. Arrival
4. Rhapsodic Images
5. Epilogue


Track 1-3: Kees Hülsmann, violin; Matthew Edwards, piano
Track 4-5: Amy Hiraga, violin; Peter Wyrick, cello; Marc Shapiro, piano

Atlantic Crossing is the violin and piano version of my Second Violin Concerto, commissioned and then premiered by the Rogerdam Philharmonic in January of 1999. The first performances were in Rogerdam and Eindhoven and featured Kees Hülsmann, soloist, with Alan Gilbert, conductor. Kees Hillen was the artistic director, with Valery Gergiev, principal conductor. The original version of the concerto was completed on July 10, 1996, with the violin and piano version (recorded here) being completed on December 28, 2002.

The composition is in four movements with an extended introduction. Yet there are only two breaks in the score, giving the music three large periods of Zme to make its case to the listener. The original version with orchestra had no breaks. I later changed that simply to give the soloist more breathing time between movements. I also naturally believe it makes good musical sense.

Rhapsodic Images was commissioned by the Bakken Trio, Minneapolis; Raphael Trio, New York; and the Robert Schumann Trio, the Netherlands. The original version of the trio was premiered by the Bakken in Minneapolis on May 10, 1998. I later added the Epilogue movement, completing the entire score on July 13, 1998.

The trio is in two movements. The first is an extended 18-minute rhapsodic movement, relating to the title, that freely moves from one idea to the next. The contrasting ideas consistently shift from the highly rhythmic to passionate and lyrical music, like much of my music. The Epilogue reflects back on previously introduced ideas to help create a more concise conclusion.


The disc contains two of the composer's major efforts. Rhapsodic Images, is an immediately winning work for the conventional complement of a piano trio (piano, violin, and cello). There are moments aplenty of genuine melodic and rhythmic interest that held my attention throughout. (…quite attractive and engaging.)

The piece is played here by a trio of musicians (Amy Hiraga, violin; Peter Wyrick, cello; and Marc Shapiro, piano), all with notable credentials, and all currently members of the San Francisco Symphony.

Kees Hülsmann, who premiered the work (Atlantic Crossing), must surely know the solo violin part inside out. He is a fine artist with a distinguished career and reputation, and I have to assume that his performance of the piece here is beyond question.

Jerry Dubins, Fanfare Magazine


“For me, this is the contemporary discovery of 2004.” Julian Haylock, The Strad

(Complete Review Below)

Atlantic Crossing is Peter Scott Lewis’ 2002 violin and piano version of his 1996 Violin Concerto, originally premiered in Rotterdam by the violinist on this recording, Kees Hülsmann. Cast in four movements, with an extended Lisztian introduction, it’s a work who myriad stylistic points of reference are negotiated here with chameleon-like ease. Late Delian chromaticism colours the more reflective passages of the first movement (An Awakening/Bright Morning!), while the dramatic opening of the finale (Arrival) initially pays homage to Stravinsky’s Violin Concerto, yet continues with music of a tonally free, dancing, Bergian intensity. Hülsmann plays with a Ferras-like jewelled accuracy, employing an extraordinary range of bow pressure, speed, and articulation. This is big-personality playing of exquisite subtlety, which ensures that the music’s post-Romantic gesturing emerges as a compelling narrative. Stunning pianism, too, from Matthew Edwards, is ideally complemented by a high-impact yet atmospheric recording.

Rhapsodic Images was (unusually) a three-way commission from the Bakken, Raphael and Robert Schumann trios. Completed in July of 1998 and scored for traditional piano trio, it is cast in two movements, the first of which is an extended (18-minute) rhapsody which fluctuates hauntingly between soaring lyricism and rhythmic potency. The four-and-a-half minute Epilogue which rounds out the piece is a separate coda that reflects upon the music heard in the previous movement with heart-warming affection. Amy Hiraga and Peter Wyrick, currently members of the San Francisco Symphony, and pianist Marc Shapiro sound intoxicated by the kaleidoscopic iridescence and sheer verve, effortlessly carrying the listener along with them. For me, this is the contemporary discovery of 2004.

Julian Haylock: The Strad, London, England


San Francisco composer Peter Scott Lewis writes music that deftly balances vibrant dissonance and lyrical, slightly post-minimalist textures. It's smart, intricately crafted, and it makes a willing, even urgent appeal to a listener's sensibilities. The two substantial works on this new CD show Lewis at his most ambitious, and the results are gripping and almost deceptively forthright. "Atlantic Crossing," an arrangement for piano and violin of the composer's Second Violin Concerto, boasts a wealth of strong-limbed melody; the performance, by violinist Kees Hülsmann and pianist Matthew Edwards, is fearless. Also included is "Rhapsodic Images," a freer, more overtly ingratiating trio played with wonderful passion by violinist Amy Hiraga, cellist Peter Wyrick and pianist Marc Shapiro (all of the San Francisco Symphony).

Joshua Kosman: Datebook: San Francisco Sunday Chronicle, 11-21-04