ALBUM REVIEW FOR Dr. Wayne Bethanis PHD. MUS. Album: “Measures Of Light” For piano and orchestra Introduction I’m very thrilled to be writing a review for such an eminent musician and composer! However, this gentleman is a fine writer himself, and describes his creations beautifully, so I will do my best!!!!
Track. 1 “Song For A New World” The world so needs a guiding light right now, and this track is it. Joyous, uplifting and with a driving force, energised. Immediately I am struck by Wayne’s incredible dexterity and virtuosity, it is not easy to play these left hand perpetual broken chords, over and over. My left hand is going into a cramp just listening to the 5421 and 5321 continual patterns! They are played at great speed and are technically very secure. Watch out Mozart and Beethoven!! In the upper register, a ‘measure of light’ is very evident and colours the descending openintervals, and they remain such prettily and repeated phrases. You can’t help but move your body to this music, it is instant! The orchestration is a beautiful blend and compliments perfectly. My favourite being the cymbal work and bendy electric guitar. Wayne’s ‘trill-playing’ is amazing, and he keeps them going for so long, very exciting for the listener. I feel I’m driving down the highway with the wind coursing through my hair right now! The running scale passages are shot straight and true, what a pianist. Bravo Wayne to you and your Steinway!
Track 2. “The Legend Of Tartaria” Welcome to an empire hidden by history but also revealed by ignorance in the vastness of Asia. This story starts with a bleak and tension filled pianistic terrain in minor tonality. Wayne leaves us wondering or perhaps reflecting? He then wrong foots us with unexpected modulations which are strong and rapturous. Very beautiful melodic fragments fill the upper register and are punctuated by a cymbalesque texture. This sound is full bodied and sonorous, the epic nature of Wayne’s piano work is astonishing, and I am reminded of the virtuosity of Liberace, himself one of the greatest piano players of all time. I can hear this in Wayne’s playing, so passionate and giving. A welcome percussion gently defines the fourfour time signature, as I sway in my seat. This man is a great modern era concert pianist of the highest order, I mean really!!.....if only I could play like this…..I would truly be a happy woman!! A total surround sound envelopes me, with orchestration to die for while a form of Alberti- Bass portrays a great light. I love Wayne’s use of Allargando and it makes my breathing deepen with its broadening, growing and expanding musical experience. This creation is totally symphonic and naturally so, effortless. I feel that I have personally witnessed the Legend of Tartaria in all its vastness and mystery, and have learned something new today, thank you Wayne!!
Track 3. “Tuatha De Danann” This album of mythology, prophecy and mystery is really growing on me!! I love all that is Celtic as I come from Irish ancestors and my name Kerry is Irish……so as soon as I hear a ‘whistle’ playing I’m hooked!! The Tuatha De Danann, a magical race that possessed supernatural powers, they’re not the only ones as Wayne has these powers as a pianist and complete artist. I feel the Goddess Danu Mother tipping her head in agreement. Once again, bass clef ostinatos rule here, something that Wayne does so well, and certainly provide a platform for his compact melody making. The piano and whistle call and respond in complete symbiosis. There’s great passion and drama within the elaborate left hand work, while a little ‘twinkle of Irish light’ adorns the hiatus. Within a magnificent Allargando, unbelievable 12 note left hand arpeggios, their weight bearing down on me, literally! Perfect scale runs soar into being, then bang, an arousing climax at 3.00 holds our breath still!!......then pure simplicity allows us to recover and finally exhale. Wow, fine work Wayne.
Track 4. “I’m Always Here” A wistful and tender piano greets me. A sensitive melody, beautiful bass clef chords in cantabile mode. A statement of perfect-cadence rests in fermata, beautiful phrasing. Full and romantic, spread chords like silver latticework amongst an elaborate and grand scale left hand. A sparkle, a glisten, reflective descending 6ths, another measure of light. I love Wayne’s sudden key changes, they capture me instantly. Simple strings on lovely long bows compliment beautifully, as cymbals crash in. This is Wayne in care-giving mood, rapturous and emotive. I note that maybe he plays bare footed sometimes, as if to feel the music through his feet for a deeper connection and an ultimate communication with us. As my daughter listens beside me she started singing ‘I’ll be there’ by the Jackson’s……she heard some form of switch in Wayne’s music, only briefly, but it lead her to vocalise……isn’t that uncanny, ‘I’ll be there’ and ‘I’m always here”?? oooh, I have chills. I feel open arms that I can depend on, envelop me, I feel really loved xx
Track 5. “Butterfly Cluster” Wayne really knows how to tell a story and capture a vision with his music. The changes in measure from triple to duple/quadruple really to me to a place where I could see the delicate and powdery wings of Monarch butterflies as they danced in the fresh air. This piece really is 4.21 of pure beauty. I sense ‘measures of light’ straining through the glass-wings as they frantically cluster together on the earths fauna and flora. Flashes of orange and black colour my vision. Wayne is really clever here……he uses 2 notes a tone apart in the upper register of the piano in perpetual motion, a small movement which perfectly evokes the tiny movements of a butterfly’s wings. Genius!!
Track 6. “The Unexpected Prophet” What an exquisite Adagio, as it meanders with sweet oboe, like an ‘inspired’ and gentle proclaimer of the will of God, just warming us through. Delicate embellishments and ‘light-measures’ of trills adorn this truly beautiful terrain. Slight changes in tempo steal my heart for a brief moment in time, and it beats faster still in a symbiosis of Wayne’s deep and meaningful allargandos and crescendos. Cymbals crash, driving ‘fortes’ to propel a multitude of modulations, that are in themselves quite‘Unexpected’. Wayne’s control over his instrument really shines in this piece and his sound production is flawless even at the very top of the piano. To finish, a chord, only made in biblical language, perhaps even that of the Old Testament……maybe our ‘unexpected-prophet’ dwells in its teachings.
Track 7. “These Years” Its no wonder that “These Years” became a ‘finalist’ piece for the “Oneness Award” given by One World Music Radio!! It is stunningly good!! Full of pace and vibrancy, silver plated and bright toned. One of Wayne’s shorter pieces coming in at 2.32, but boy does it deliver! Creative use of accents on off-beats here and there and Wayne is never fazed by this as if it were one of his default buttons. Interesting electric guitar and piano sing in ‘unison’ at one point, and complete with “twiddly bits” from the piano, they run free, fizzing with energy! A short but reflective episode in the minor tonality, before resting gently, so that light rays run parallel to their axis of an optical system within a ‘major chord’.
Track 8. “I will return to you” This is one of the most beautiful tracks I’ve ever heard in my life!! My brain, heart and soul is swimming with emotion, and my eyes are wet. We start with water and bells, so haunting, and to suggest that a fond farewell is taking place. Slow and nostalgic, a journey begins, but will there be a returning?? My ears hear little glimpses of Rachmaninov, Nino Rota, and would you believe…..Barry Manilow (who incidentally is one of my favourite musicians of all time). The orchestral swells are absolutely spine tingling, and you can envision the harpists as they stroke the strings with complete abandon. The orchestration is as sublime as say the ‘coda’ of the 2 nd movement of Rachmaninov’s piano concerto in C Minor, really. I do sense an absence and void in a beating heart that I don’t know of, but feel sad for. This fragile yet powerful piece delivers in parts a repeated bass that sounds like an earthquake taking place by metronome and seems like my dining room floor is trembling! A ‘return’ to water and bells leaves me feeling slightly undecided whether it is a complete return or not, and I feel the need for a ray or ‘measure of light’ to help me, and to heal the absent heart. Just wonderful Wayne and how clever.
Track 9. “The Gods Of The Egyptians” We’re playing with the big boys now!! Wayne rules this piece like a dynasty! My ears prick up as Ptolemaic Goddesses deliver their vowel sounds, on a breath of shimmering light. Wayne’s trills pierce like a pneumatic drill, their duration unrivalled. Three statement chords of great magnitude, stand with hands on hips, whipped into shape by crashing cymbals. Its almost as if Wayne has invented an ancient Egyptian scale all its own, works beautifully, threading a sequined melody as it goes. I feel a snake waking up in its basket, nice and tight with defined rhythm. Loving the authentic sounding instruments of the day, really spot on, like when you see an orchestra perform Beethoven symphonies with actual instruments from his time. It becomes a very special sound. The most incredible pianistic virtuosity runs throughout this work, I could only ever play like this in my wildest dreams!! It is already at pace, then Wayne pushes a little more accelerandos into the mix!!! Epic proportions on a grand scale make me feel quite dizzy. We are allowed to recover, when once again lofty towers stand their ground, punctuated by Fermata, I exhale.
I have loved exploring this kingdom with Wayne, who has shone a ray of light on my musical learning, I know more now. Thank you! Bravo and rise for your standing ovation.