"Lewis is skilled at setting his texts so that the meaning and imagery land with impact, and his euphonious, extended tonal language is a good fit for Sund’s idyllic celebrations. Lewis follows suit with strikingly bright and pungent harmonies, including a touch of Manhattan Transfer-style jazz. The kaleidoscopic chromaticisms are vivid musical representations of the different kinds of light…"
Peter Scott Lewis has a vivid and idiosyncratic affinity for the human voice, as can be heard on ‘The Four Cycles’, a disc that spans four decades of creative activity. The San Francisco-based composer writes in a style that might be termed ‘rugged lyricism’, with vocal lines and harmonies taking unpredictable directions. The performers include two vibrant soloists, mezzo-soprano Christine Abraham and soprano Susan Narucki, and the expert New York Virtuoso Singers Quartet conducted by the composer.
San Francisco composer Peter Scott Lewis combines ingratiating surfaces — strong-boned tonal harmonies and melodic gracefulness — with secure structural underpinnings that keep everything logically in place. The results come through handsomely in this compilation of four song cycles of various hues and scales, all of them performed with delicacy and vigor.
Peter Scott Lewis is an eclectic composer of a highly poetic nature, yet they also point to the importance of organization in his music and demonstrate a formal consistency. "River Shining Through" (2004) is indebted to the modern string quartet and is the most harmonically complex and energetic piece on the program; yet Lewis avoids the density and hyper-virtuosity that make many contemporary string quartets difficult to appreciate, and the lightness of its rhythms and clarity of its textures bring out the underlying dance impulses.
Lewis’s guitar technique is utterly clean and precise. He has a fine understanding of his comparatively quiet instrument’s paradoxically awesome dynamic range. His chord voicings are organ-like, and his ability to float his often-austere melodies over large time stretches is satisfying. In sum, if you are a guitar aficionado, this release is essential.
Peter Lewis is featured here as the soloist in his own four-movement Three Suites, works that show off the formidable technique Lewis commands — his right hand is particularly amazing, capable of the most fleet-flowing repeated notes. Tuneful and highly rhythmic, the suites (especially the last one) have an improvisational feel, with repeated passages that alter slightly and gradually metamorphose into completely different material.
Peter Scott Lewis is a composer of considerable talents. ... solid construction ... strong rhythmic sections ... luminous ... ably performed by Kees Hulsmann and The Berkeley Symphony Orchestra ... under Stephanie Friedman’s flawless diction ... Robin Sutherland’s fine solo performance.
What you find is a serious, straightforward neo-romanticism, almost Bergian, without the Viennese master’s edge. Written in the mid 1980s, at the height of a flowering of concerto composition in the United States, Lewis’ Violin Concerto is a fine example of the genre. It is challenging for the soloist and accessible to the audience, without pandering or condescending.
This CD is a real find. It is a great recording of what might best be described as post-modern chamber music by the California composer Peter Scott Lewis. Beaming Contrasts and Through The Mountain are the two highlights. They are both substantial new works that deserve to become staples of the contemporary chamber music repertoire.
The boldest essay was Peter Scott Lewis’ Beaming Contrasts (1989), dialectic of steel and catgut exploring both differences and similarities between string and guitar textures. The amplified guitar strident, biting nature seemed to slice air when the duo played in jazzy syncopation with the quartet.
A short, two-movement piece (played as one,) Night Lights derives its musical from, of all things, melodies-lyrical melodies with strong, clear profiles. That, along with the committed, no-hold-barred performance by the Alexander, made the work absorbable on a first hearing without sounding facile or glib.
The composer Peter Lewis has the rare ability to make the language of his compositions emotionally accessible to the listener. Although not all his works for guitar are atonal, his Guitar Concerto is melodically and harmonically abstract and also rhythmically complex. However, the music does not perplex, but is surprisingly pleasing and sensual. Herein lies the composer’s originality.