Music

Composer Kosta Jevtić Offers 'Reflections on a Journey' to the Mediterranean

Photo: Olja Radmanović / Courtesy of the artist

Serbian composer Kosta Jevtić evokes the clement Mediterranean in solo piano form on the brilliant new album, Reflections on a Journey.

Reflections on a Journey
Kosta Jevtić

Mistyland

15 April 2020

Reflections on a Journey, the new album by Novi Sad-based composer and pianist Kosta Jevtić, is a collection of music indebted to the ever-inspirational aesthetics of the Mediterranean. A quick scan of the tracklist reveals this on a surface level - "Chiostro del Paradiso" opens the album with an allusion to the Amalfi coast, while later tracks are named for Greek and Italian islands and figures - and an immersive listen confirms it. Jevtić makes music for temperate climates, for coastlines drenched in warm sunshine, constantly balanced out by cool breezes. Though the pieces vary in terms of mood and texture, the album overall is unwaveringly serene. Jevtić's reflections are ones of rosy retrospection.

That is all a fine start, if somewhat de rigueur for an album of contemporary classical piano solo music. Finding what sets such a work apart from its cohort is perhaps more complex, and often somewhat hard to pinpoint, being more about affect than structure - two qualities of a performance joined together by the technique with which an artist executes a given piece in this case.

Jevtić's technique is top-notch in terms of both feeling and skill. The contrasts between hands on each piece he plays here are richly satisfying, strong fundamentals adorned with flourishes that run the gamut from majestic to dreamlike. Every dynamic is carefully considered, every note held until it reaches its end gradually, like a deep and cleansing breath. It's the organic style of playing that comes from an emotional connection between player and instrument, the kind of expression that makes a performance exceptional. While it's to be expected from musicians devoted enough to their craft to make a career of it, such sincerity is always a wonderful thing to behold.

Soothing enough throughout that one could arguably place it in the dubious category of new age music, Reflections on a Journey is nonetheless more nuanced than your standard spa soundtrack. That is because of Jevtić's aforementioned genuine delivery and the emotional depth he brings to each track. Even the languid optimism of "Chiostro Del Paradiso" has a melancholy to it. "Sweet Sun of Southern Lands" is, for its unquestionably upbeat title, marked by a sense of suspense throughout.

A personal favorite for me is "Sappho's Dream". Clocking in at six minutes, the composition makes time to explore the stranger elements of sleep, a somnambulant wandering through shadows and scattered light. Jevtić builds, first introducing a motif that delicately tiptoes across high notes and then bringing to it a more bottom-heavy storyline, more motion, more action, until the piece winds down to a final, solid resolution.

A Mediterranean climate is a clement one, regularly gentle, never extreme. Changes within one tend to be subtler than those found inland. That is what Kosta Jevtić captures in Reflections on a Journey. As risky as a solo piano recording is - the performer is continuously exposed, the structure so simple that the execution must be perfect - Jevtić here makes the most of the format's capacity for expression, both of feeling and skill. His heart-on-sleeve tribute to land and sea is as thoughtfully crafted as it is calming and well worth a concerted listen.

7


Music


Books


Film


Television


Recent
Books

Zadie Smith's 'Intimations' Essays Pandemic With Erudite Wit and Compassion

Zadie Smith's Intimations is an essay collection of gleaming, wry, and crisp prose that wears its erudition lightly but takes flight on both everyday and lofty matters.

Music

Phil Elverum Sings His Memoir on 'Microphones in 2020'

On his first studio album under the Microphones moniker since 2003, Phil Elverum shows he has been recording the same song since he was a teenager in the mid-1990s. Microphones in 2020 might be his apex as a songwriter.

Music

Washed Out's 'Purple Noon' Supplies Reassurance and Comfort

Washed Out's Purple Noon makes an argument against cynicism simply by existing and sounding as good as it does.

Music

'Eight Gates' Is Jason Molina's Stark, Haunting, Posthumous Artistic Statement

The ten songs on Eight Gates from the late Jason Molina are fascinating, despite – or perhaps because of – their raw, unfinished feel.

Film

Apocalypse '45 Uses Gloriously Restored Footage to Reveal the Ugliest Side of Our Nature

Erik Nelson's gorgeously restored Pacific War color footage in Apocalypse '45 makes a dramatic backdrop for his revealing interviews with veterans who survived the brutality of "a war without mercy".

Music

12 Brilliant Recent Jazz Albums That Shouldn't Be Missed

There is so much wonderful creative music these days that even an apartment-bound critic misses too much of it. Here is jazz from the last 18 months that shouldn't be missed.

Music

Blues Legend Bobby Rush Reinvigorates the Classic "Dust My Broom" (premiere)

Still going strong at 86, blues legend Bobby Rush presents "Dust My Broom" from an upcoming salute to Mississippi blues history, Rawer Than Raw, rendered in his inimitable style.

Music

Folk Rock's the Brevet Give a Glimmer of Hope With "Blue Coast" (premiere)

Dreamy bits of sunshine find their way through the clouds of dreams dashed and lives on the brink of despair on "Blue Coast" from soulful rockers the Brevet.

Music

Michael McArthur's "How to Fall in Love" Isn't a Roadmap (premiere)

In tune with classic 1970s folk, Michael McArthur weaves a spellbinding tale of personal growth and hope for the future with "How to Fall in Love".

Film

Greta Gerwig's Adaptation of Loneliness in Louisa May Alcott's 'Little Women'

Greta Gerwig's film adaptation of Louisa May Alcott's classic novel Little Women strays from the dominating theme of existential loneliness.

Music

The Band's Discontented Third LP, 1970's 'Stage Fright', Represented a World Braving Calamity

Released 50 years ago this month, the Band's Stage Fright remains a marker of cultural unrest not yet remedied.

Music

Natalie Schlabs Starts Living the Lifetime Dream With "That Early Love" (premiere + interview)

Unleashing the power of love with a new single and music video premiere, Natalie Schlabs is hoping to spread the word while letting her striking voice be heard ahead of Don't Look Too Close, the full-length album she will release in October.

Music

Rufus Wainwright Makes a Welcome Return to Pop with 'Unfollow the Rules'

Rufus Wainwright has done Judy Garland, Shakespeare, and opera, so now it's time for Rufus to rediscover Rufus on Unfollow the Rules.

Music

Jazz's Denny Zeitlin and Trio Get Adventurous on 'Live at Mezzrow'

West Coast pianist Denny Zeitlin creates a classic and adventurous live set with his long-standing trio featuring Buster Williams and Matt Wilson on Live at Mezzrow.

Film

The Inescapable Violence in Netflix's I'm No Longer Here (Ya no estoy aqui)

Fernando Frías de la Parra's I'm No Longer Here (Ya no estoy aqui) is part of a growing body of Latin American social realist films that show how creativity can serve a means of survival in tough circumstances.

Music

Arlo McKinley's Confessional Country/Folk Is Superb on 'Die Midwestern'

Country/folk singer-songwriter Arlo McKinley's debut Die Midwestern marries painful honesty with solid melodies and strong arrangements.

Music

Viserra Combine Guitar Heroics and Female Vocals on 'Siren Star'

If you ever thought 2000s hard rock needed more guitar leads and solos, Viserra have you covered with Siren Star.

Music

Ryan Hamilton & The Harlequin Ghosts Honor Their Favorite Songs With "Oh No" (premiere)

Ryan Hamilton's "Oh No" features guest vocals from Kay Hanley of Letters to Cleo, and appears on Nowhere to Go But Everywhere out 18 September.

Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews

Features
Collapse Expand Features
PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.