Kostas Boukouvalas has been on my musical radar ever since the release of Memories from a Sea View last year, that one resonated with me, and this new album gives me a whole new playground of solo piano to investigate, and some of the most original and deep thinking music that I have ever heard.
This seven piece release is a vast work, one of mood and inspired by seven different philosophical aspects of life. The beginning point is named Epic as Life and is a grand opus that one flows into deep and dark areas of life’s rich pattern; perhaps a performance that salutes the greatness of each of our lives can be felt here on this most powerful of piano opuses, and one that is the longest at well over thirteen minutes in duration.
Live What You Are is our next offering, it is one of the most beautiful pieces from the album, the lightness of touch here for me, illustrates the sparkling radiance of life if we try to be no more than just ourselves. The fluency here on piano is translucent, and raises the mood with what is a truly breath-taking presentation, one that I could see myself listening to many times over.
It seems very strange writing about this track as I live in a country that likes to dance, but dancing is not allowed currently to due to the pandemic and the mandates that now are in place, but Greek Dance for Life reminds me of better days, and ones that we can hopefully return to in the very near future. The performance here by Boukouvalas is indeed a dance that combines happiness and intensity, and all on one long fluidic movement of life unfurling, a wonderful crafted and clever piano presentation indeed.
The curiously entitled Half a Life After is up next, and ushers forth the arrival of the moment when we step into the latter half of the album, again the artists creative skills here are sublime and paint a wonderfully compelling narrative with his piano. This is a piece dedicated to those moments of reflection we all have, have I lived my life in the best way I can, or have I learned from my mistakes, and will I make the second half much better. Whichever, this is one of the most memorable pieces from the album, and the minor refrain it is created in, is deeply emotional and very listenable.
This is an album that has been manifested with a vast amount of thought and feeling, and Life Immortal is another example of this statement and a track that almost hovers across the mist filled skies of our musical landscape with a slight hint of anticipation and apprehension, this is a wonderfully clever composition, perhaps expressing the dichotomy of life and death, and the juxtaposition of them both to each other.
The pace and tempo picks up on our penultimate offering entitled Learning to Live, this is an intriguing opus as the artist creates such a fascinating performance, one could imagine two pathways of creation taking place here within the arrangement, as both the master and student, teach and learn from each other respectively.
For the Joy of Living is our final offering and here the pianist draws his final conclusion and delivers a masterful performance that in its title gives us the answer, life is for living and living is free. The dark and light aspects of performance here by Boukouvalas were wonderfully palpable, insightful and deeply felt. This was a journey beautifully delivered with passion and absolute honesty.
Lives by Kostas Boukouvalas is a vast body of work on piano that is both deep and thought provoking, it is one of those releases we all need from time to time to bring our thoughts back into balance and re-focus. Lives is an album of passion and truth, a musical pastiche of an almost philosophical proportion, and all from one very artistic performer and his piano.