Twenty One Concert Studies

Genre : Contemporary Classical

Catalogue: Phasma-Music 034

UPC: 660989085889

recording: Paul Kvatchadze

editing: Paul Kvatchadze

mastering: Piotr Wieczorek

recording place: Big Hall of Tbilisi State

Conservatory recorded in November, 2020

texts: © Beata Iwona Glinka

graphic design: Michail Travlos

front cover: Digital Art by Michail Travlos

premiere: January 21, 2020.

Tamara Licheli, piano


won the the Akademia Music Awards - Music Award of Excellence (MAY, 2021) and the GLOBAL MUSIC AWARD - OUTSTANDING ACHIEVEMENT - SILVER Medal Double Winner in the two categories: contemporary classical and album, August-2021.

Twenty One Concert Studies won the CLOUZINE International Music Awards (Best Contemporary Piano Album Album), FEBRUARY- 2022.

Michail Travlos’s third album is dedicated solely to his own music, a follow-up to the award-winning albums PROGRESSIONS (ICMA nomination 2018, Global Music Awards, Akademia Music Award, Clouzine International Music Award etc.) and NIGHT VISIONS. In TWENTY ONE CONCERT STUDIES, the listener experiences virtuosic works of diverse styles and aesthetic perspectives, proving once again that Travlos is one of Greece’s most interesting and convincing living modern composers. In this album, featuring twenty-one brilliant works, Travlos has managed to create an exciting and often challenging personal voice that is always interesting and very appealing.

Guillaume Kosmicki (in ResMusic on October 31, 2020), reviewing Travlos’s second album, distinguished the composer’s fantastic artistry in creating miniatures. The twenty-one studies function here independently as small masterpieces as well as spectacular miniatures. These pieces, written three years ago in April 2018, are undeniably among the best compositions of this form in 21st- century piano music. Formally, they are perfectly arranged, full of surprising dramatic twists, while at the same time extremely technically demanding.

Travlos studied composition with the Korean composer Isang Yun at the Hochschule der Künste in Berlin. Listening to the album, one notices the stylistic distinctiveness of the composer’s technique and the lack of imitative copying of Korean, or rather Asian, philosophy.

When considering the etudes of Travlos, it is difficult not to associate them with those by Karol Szymanowski, György Ligeti or Charles Ives. What captivates here is the ability to operate with phrases and sounds without any obligations towards the so-called commonly practiced tradition. This form of non-influential expression is extremely inspiring. In this space, you can feel the freedom of the composer, who tells his story based on a musical text, revealing his emotions without the fear of an immediate confrontation with interpretation.

The composer often uses dodecaphony, but from the perspective of the macroform, he is distinguished by a postmodern style. The most recognizable feature of Travlos’s music is the balance between dodecaphony, atonality, and total tonality, using a very deeply expressive melodic line and refined harmony. For this composer, music is above all an expression of deeply personal experiences. Certainly, every pianist enjoys great satisfaction in overcoming performance difficulties in etudes. The desired result can be achieved not by using technical assumptions but through timbre and musical imagination. In Travlos’s music, the priority is to have a broad phrase, which in turn gives a sense of a highly disciplined, romantic improvisational quality to the music performed and an evolution from very simple basic ideas to music of great complexity.

The expressions of the etudes are distinguished by a variety of narrative types, each being a different and separate story, although sometimes one subtly refers to another. Just like in life: suffering in love often goes hand in hand with jealousy, but it is also associated with happiness! However, human emotions are limitless, just as the ability to possess and experience them is infinitely great. The fundamental role in the composer’s work is expression, without which music would be deprived of what is most important—feelings. Travlos emphasizes that art that does not express any feelings has no place. During the avant-garde period, people wanted to exclude all traces of emotions from art, but in time, the past, i.e., artistry expressing human states of spirit, has always returned. Ludwig van Beethoven argued that music is an intermediary between the realms of the senses and the spirit, and that it should light up a flame in a man’s heart and fill women’s eyes with tears ...!

As a technical exercise, the etude is the only musical genre that focuses on the body and capabilities of the performer; that is, it is based on a set of movements that lead to a new musical result. Thus, it cannot be said that in etudes, technique is used to express a musical idea; rather, that the content of the music consists of the technical exercise itself (performance).

Travlos’s etudes, which are excruciatingly demanding, are covered by the amazing skills of the Georgian pianist Tamara Licheli. The beauty of the sound, the passion of the phrase, melancholy, extraordinary musicality and virtuosity are the features of Licheli’s interpretation. Extremely inspired and full of emotions, the performance invites the listener to perceive the artistic reality, which is an expression of the joint work and unanimity of the composer and the interpreter.

The most interesting feature of the music presented here seems to be the combination of a traditional, continuing narrative, governed by the craft of development and the relationships between individual sound phenomena in the form of a thematic or motivational work.

(© Dr Beata Iwona Glinka)

Product details

01. Mimic [02:07]

02. Drops of Golden Rain [01:31]

03. Perpetuum mobile [01:37]

04. Reflextions [04:09]

05. Requiem [05:19]

06. Speeding up [02:24]

07. Passing by [01:42]

08. Harmonies [03:42]

09. Extremities [01:24]

10. Leaves, swirling [02:00]

11. Deep Ocean-Sunny surface [04:47]

12. Peculiar Waltz [02:23]

13. Peculiar tango [02:01]

14. Dance Macabre [01:59]

15. Anguish [02:41]

16. Sliding [01:54]

17. Moonlight Elegy [02:14]

18. Golden stars falling [02:19]

19. Far apart [03:57]

20. The goships [02:22]

21. Finale-Geting out [02:02]

Total time: [54:45]