Singing Style
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Pianist Bruce Leto, Jr. excels at cantabile expression in this recital.

The subtitle of this recording, Singing Style - cantabile expressions from the Baroque to present - gives the listener a good idea of what to expect. As pianist Bruce Leto, Jr. says, "Every piece of music has a story - whether tonally, modally, or motivically. Singing Style is an album derived as much from compositional cantabile sensibilities as from the art of song…Singing Style takes the listener through compositional passages, vocal/piano arrangements, and humanitarian calls to action." Bruce Leto, Jr. has been a prize-winner in scholastic, collegiate, national, and international piano competitions, including the Young Artist Division of the Canadian International Music Competition, the Seattle International Piano Festival - Virtuoso Artists 20, and the Grand Metropolitan International Music Competition, among many others. A graduate of Haverford College and New York University, he is now working on an MBA at Villanova.
Contents:
Curt Cacioppo, composer
August Rose
Bruce Leto, Jr. (piano)

Maurice Ravel, composer
Valses nobles et sentimentales
Bruce Leto, Jr. (piano)

Curt Cacioppo, composer
Chloe
Bruce Leto, Jr. (piano)

Charles Cacioppo, composer
Apparition
Bruce Leto, Jr. (piano)

Claude Debussy, composer
Le petite nègre
Bruce Leto, Jr. (piano)

Claude Debussy, composer
Pièce pour le Vêtement du blessé, L. 133
Bruce Leto, Jr. (piano)

Frédéric Chopin, composer
Ballade No. 3 in A Flat Major, B136/Op. 47
Bruce Leto, Jr. (piano)

Francis Poulenc, composer
Très modéré from Trois Mouvements Perpétuels
Bruce Leto, Jr. (piano)

Claude Debussy, composer
L'âme évaporée from Deux Romances
Lauren Angelini (soprano); Bruce Leto, Jr. (piano)

Claude Debussy, composer
Les Cloches
Lauren Angelini (soprano); Bruce Leto, Jr. (piano)

Curt Cacioppo, composer
Armed and Dangerous
Bruce Leto, Jr. (piano)

Johann Sebastian Bach, composer
Prelude No. 1 in C Major, BWV846
Bruce Leto, Jr. (piano)

Maurice Ravel, composer
Ma mère l'oye
Scott Cohen (piano); Bruce Leto, Jr. (piano)

Review:
“The music of Curt Cacioppo has impressed me on several occasions in these pages. His solo piano August Rose seems to be something of a composed improvization on a song, its style intimate and oscillating between jazz and contemporary harmonies. There is a slightly heady note to it all which blends well with the single movement from Ravel’s Valses nobles et sentimentales, both heard in wonderful performances from Bruce Leto. There is a refined element to Leto’s playing that is most involving; the Ravel in turn leads back to music by Curt Cacopppo, the gentle Chloe, a veritable meditation on the beauty inherent in Cacioppo’s piece.…A fascinating exploration of “singing style,” well executed and exploring some notable new territory.” (Fanfare)

“…Curt Cacioppo’s Armed and Dangerous, a fantasia on the 15th century melody “L’homme armé,” explores a more conflicted and at times, jazz-infused form of expression. That work, recorded in performance, receives its world premiere recording. Bruce Leto plays all the works with the appropriate introspection, lovely tone, and plasticity of phrasing. He also embraces the more volatile world of Curt Cacioppo’s Armed and Dangerous, and does so convincingly.…A lovely program, admirable both in conception and execution.” (Fanfare)

The always exceptional pianist Bruce Leto covers sounds from baroque to present on the aptly titled Singing Style, where the arrangements occasionally welcome vocals alongside Leto’s expressive and artistic approach to his tonal manipulation. “August Rose” starts the listen with Leto’s keys displaying both intimate and brisk, even firm, ideas highlighting the warm spirit, and “Valses nobles et sentimentales II. Assez lent” follows with much beauty and grace as a darker spirit flows near the end. Deeper into the listen, “Apparition” offers tumbling keys that weave in and out of cinematic qualities, while “La petite négre” bounces playfully as the brief track makes an immediate impact. “Deux Romances: I. L’ame évaporee” then brings in Lauren Angelini on soprano as her sublime pipes complement Leto’s deft finger acrobatics. “Armed And Dangerous” arrives near the end and offers a live performance that’s as flawless as it is memorable, and “Ma mére l’oye: IV. Les entretiens de la belle et de la béte” finishes the listen with Scott Cohen’s piano skill complementing Leto’s prowess on the flexible, absorbing exit. An extremely technical but universally embraceable effort, Leto shows us his multifaceted skill in both calm and muscular environments where tone, harmony and articulation are key. For fans of piano music, few are doing it as well as Leto. (takeeffectreviews.com)

Pianist Bruce Leto’s Singing Style unites works in which song, here considered as “compositional cantabile expression,” plays an integral role, whether assigned to the voice, as in Debussy’s Deux Romances (charmingly sung by Lauren Angelini); to the piano, as in Chopin’s Third Ballade, in which Leto hears proof of the composer’s love of bel canto; or to suggested melody, as implied by the subtly shifting arpeggios and harmonic movement of Bach’s Prelude in C, later appropriated by Charles Gounod for his Ave Maria. Besides the emphasis on song, the program tilts towards the French, with seven of the 13 tracks by Debussy, Ravel, and Poulenc, and three of four by the Italian-American Cacioppos, père et fils (Curt and Charles, respectively) that blend well with their Gallic confrères. The fourth, Cacioppo senior’s Armed and Dangerous, while it does have its Impressionistic moments, ranges farther afield stylistically; it’s an absorbing, often technically demanding set of variations on L’homme arm, the medieval tune famously used in a mass setting by the French/Flemish composer Guillaume Dufay…Questions of nationality aside, what unites these performances is Leto’s sure sense of direction and flow at any tempo, clarity of articulation, appealingly focused tone, expressive phrasing, coupled with a contrapuntal and harmonic awareness which doesn’t distract from the melodic line, and a flexible, virtuoso technique. … In the end, though, I found it a persuasive alternative. (Leto thrillingly gives free rein to his explosive side in Armed and Dangerous, here in a world-premiere live performance.) Whatever your thoughts about Singing Style’s underlying premise that “Every piece of music has a story – whether tonally, modally, or motivically,” it’s a thoughtfully assembled collection, beautifully performed by a talented, musically sophisticated pianist and friends. (Fanfare)