An Interpreter’s Tribute to a COVID-Stricken Europe
Bruce Leto, Jr. piano
Navona Records artist Bruce Leto’s newest album of solo piano works synthesizes the tribulations and perseverance of the human spirit in the age of COVID-19, while also taking a look at some of the more bewildering aspects of the global response. GOMITOLO!— named after the Italian expression that loosely translates to “the incomprehensibility of human life"—is a fitting tribute to the European countries heavily impacted by the coronavirus pandemic, featuring solo piano performances of works by Poulenc, Ravel, and fellow PARMA artist Curt Cacioppo.
Despite the current status of the music industry in the year of COVID-19, Leto has stayed exceptionally busy and has achieved recognition worldwide. He was the sole recipient of the Performance Scholarship to the Cohen School of Music based on range of ability, technique, knowledge, and experience, and won the Bronze Prize (soloist); Silver Prize (ensemble) for the Progressive Musicians International Competition (Amateur Division, Piano). In addition, Leto won First Prize in the Quebec International Music Competition (Piano) and the Silver Prize for Virtuoso Artists '20 in the Seattle International Piano Competition.
A highly-lauded pianist since childhood, Leto’s sensitive and refined style gives new life to classical and impressionistic works alike. His works are all deeply embedded with philanthropic elements, and this new album was born out of a pressing need in Leto’s music community. Faced with possible faculty layoffs at the Settlement Music School in Philadelphia in April 2020, Leto participated in a virtual gala to benefit the school. The inspiration for GOMITOLO! arose from this experience. Here, he interprets the works of European and American masters—with each work speaking in some way to the crisis and the resulting global response.
Leto describes composer Francis Poulenc’s music, for example, as “as serious, capricious, and bewildering as the global response to COVID-19.” Likewise, Leto finds meaning in the more whimsical pieces by Ravel and Cacioppo, a badly-needed dose of levity during unprecedented times. Adding to the musical experience, Leto has also collaborated with integrative interpreter Lauren Angelini to create thought-provoking multimedia integrations for the audio works on the album.
As is often the case in times of profound crisis, artists have begun responding to the COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting social isolation with powerful resilience. Leto’s GOMITOLO! comes at the forefront of what is certain to be an artistic movement in its own right. Surely, even after life on planet Earth has begun to resume a sense of normalcy, this album will continue to be treasured not only for its historical significance but for its immersive beauty.
Release Date: August 14, 2020
Catalog #: NV6308
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