"Carter Pann is a hugely talented 28-year-old composer, student of, among others, William Albright and William Bolcom at the University of Michigan.
"The overall comment I would make about Pann's music is that he is a master orchestrator, a brilliant pasticheur, a sly practitioner of musical humor, and that he is capable of some of the most lusciously melodic and moving slow music.
"The piano concerto has five movements. The first, entitled Pina Colada (yes, inspired by that silly pop song of some years ago), is a loose-jointed Caribbean-influenced piece that reminds me a lot of Michael Torke in his 'Javelin' mode. The second, Nocturne, is quiet, slow, Debussyesque. The third, Your Touch, is for solo piano and sounds an awful lot like jazz pianist Denny Zeitlin's smoky classic 'Quiet Now.' This is a high recommendation; it's got a gorgeous tune and luscious harmonies. The fourth, Blues, sounds like updated jazzy Bernstein in its dislocated accents, stride bass, throwaway virtuosity. The fifth, Concert, is a hilarious knockoff of just about every classical concerto cliche and even quotes, almost note for note, a bridge passage from Beethoven's Emperor Concerto, before exploding into one of those hilarious never-ending classic tonic-dominant endings. I found myself laughing out loud.
"Deux sejours (Two journeys) are evocations of two small towns - one in France, one in Italy - and are intentionally modeled on the orchestrations by Debussy of Satie's 'Gymnopedies'. Quiet gardens, civility, serenity, lovely melodies.
"Dance Partita is an eight-movement (actually four movements and four ritornellos) orchestral suite, with piano obbligato, based on baroque models. Stravinsky in his neoclassic music - think Jeux de cartes or, better, Pulcinella - comes to mind. Also Bolcom's 'Orphee-Serenade' (anunder-recognized masterpiece) is evoked. Brilliantly done. One's toe taps until tripped up by the irregular time signatures. Delicious.
"Two Portraits of Barcelona. The first, 'Antoni Gaudi's Cathedral' is a six minute tone-poem that builds from a mysterious opening, evoking the religious grandeur of the Cathedral, to a wicked Rouse-ian description of Gaudi's wild architecture. The second, 'The Bullfight', starts with mock-heroic Spanish bullfight music, complete with trumpet duo flourishes, and builds to a frenetic danza, ending the CD with high spirits and this listener with a desire for more. Ole!
"Lest it sound like I think Pann has no 'sound' of his own, I want to emphasize that this man has the goods and is discovering a voice that I predict will be increasingly listened to."