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Posted By Erin Young, Thursday, September 8, 2016




Second recording in a planned four-disc Naxos series featuring world premiere recordings

 of solo works by Spanish composers commissioned by Adam Levin


NEW YORK, NY – On October 14, 2016, Naxos releases 21st Century Spanish Guitar, Volume 2 [Naxos 8.573409], the second of four scheduled volumes on the label featuring award-winning American guitarist Adam Levin.  To create this series, Mr. Levin commissioned 30 new scores from four generations of living Spanish composers. Volume 2 includes world premiere recordings of eight new solo works by Leonardo Balada, Jesús Torres, Marc López Godoy, Luis de Pablo, Eduardo Soutullo, Jacobo Durán-Loriga, Benet Casablancas, and Juan Manuel Ruiz, plus a work by Antón García Abril that was dedicated to Mr. Levin’s friend and teacher, Gabriel Estarellas. The new recording was produced by GRAMMY-nominated recording engineer Norbert Kraft, edited by Bonnie Silver


As the sixth album in Mr. Levin’s critically-acclaimed discography, 21st Century Spanish Guitar, Volume 2 grew out of Mr. Levin’s three years studying, performing, and teaching in Spain through a generous grant from the Fulbright Program from 2008 to 2011, where he became aware of the tremendous transformations the country had undergone since the demise of the Franco regime. Though Levin was classically trained in the Spanish masterworks from the standard guitar literature, became increasingly passionate about developing and creating new literature for guitar by living Spanish composers. By the time Mr. Levin returned to the US in 2011, he had commissioned 30 new solo works from some of Spain’s most recognized and celebrated composers, alongside gifted emerging Spanish composers.    


The new album opens with Leonardo Balada’s (b. 1933) Caprichos No. 11: Abstractions of Granados (2014), the second of four works that the composer has written for Levin, the result of a growing friendship between the composer and the artist. As an homage to Granados’ twelve Danzas españolas, the work is an imaginative reinvention of the original piano scores drawn through Balada’s own modern lens.   Interiores (2010) by Jesús Torres (b. 1965) is an intimate one-movement soliloquy in which Torres balances the extroverted and introverted voices of the guitar.  One of Balada’s most esteemed students, Marc López Godoy (b. 1967) contributesAutumn Elegy (2012), opening with a radiant portrait of a starling’s seemingly effortless flight on a tranquil summer day, followed by music of deep melancholy evocative of the waning days of late August, concluding with a brilliant fast movement that harkens the turbulent onset of Autumn.


Celebrated Spanish master Anton García Abril’s (b. 1933) Dos Cantares(2010) was originally written for Levin’s friend and teacher, Gabriel Estarellas. Levin writes, “The first movement is reserved and elegantly composed with extended melodies, blooming one into the next… there follows a second movement at once taciturn and energetic, ahead of a return to the robust opening arpeggios.” Luis de Pablo (b. 1930), a winner of Spain’s National Music Prize in Composition, presents Ivory Tower (2013), a cerebral one-movement work that seeks to explore “the nobility of human purpose, purity of intention, and intellectual pursuit” in musical form, according to the composer. 


Adam Levin met Eduardo Soutullo (b. 1968) just hours before playing the world premiere of the work, I’ve Got You Under My String (2013), which was commissioned for Levin to play at the 2013 Festival Internacional de Música Tres Cantos. Levin immediately admired the composer’s style, reminiscent of Cuban and Japanese masters, Leo Brouwer and Toru Takemitsu. The three-movement suite Upon 21 (2012) by Jacobo Durán-Loriga salutes Baroque dances, with an opening fast-paced Courante, a visceral and minimalistic Chaconne, and an agile Gigue.  Benet Casablancas(b. 1933), another of Spain’s National Music Prize honorees, dedicated hisThree Pieces for Guitar (2011) to Mr. Levin.  Evolving from the second Viennese school, Levin notes, “Casablancas is bold, imaginative, virtuosic and highly personal… abrupt musical turns, grinding halts, electrifying jolts forward, then delicately balanced calm, impressionist brush strokes, and abrasive sforzandos… the piece winds down through a series of rhapsodic statements and agitated cascading music, leaving us gasping for harmonious resolution.” 


The album closes with Orión, a virtuosic twelve-minute tour-de-force byJuan Manuel Ruiz.  Levin was introduced to the composer through his orchestral music: scores of immense scale and intensity of sound. Levin challenged Ruiz to bring that sense of orchestral grandeur and potency to the modest voice of the guitar. Levin says, “Unflinchingly, he composed this work, which draws upon most every sonic and technical possibility the guitar has to offer.” 




Adam Levin: 21st Century Spanish Guitar, Volume 2 [Naxos 8.573409]


1.       Leonardo Balada (b. 1933): Caprichos No. 11: Abstractions of Granados(2014)*

2.       Jesús Torres (b. 1965): Interiores (2010)*

3.       Marc Lopez Godoy (b. 1967): Elegía Otoñal (Autumn Elegy) (2012)*

4.       Anton García Abril (b. 1933): Dos Cantares (2010)

5.       Luis de Pablo (b. 1930): Turris Eburnea (Ivory Tower) (2013)*

6.       Eduardo Soutullo (b. 1968): I’ve Got You Under My String (2013)*

7.       Jacobo Durán-Loriga (b. 1958): Upon 21 (2012)*

8.       Benet Casablancas (b. 1933): Tres piezas para guitarra (Three Pieces for Guitar) (2011)*

9.       Juan Manuel Ruiz (b. 1968): Orión (2010)*

* World Premiere Recordings


In celebration of the album’s release, Mr. Levin will be performing works from his Spanish collection alongside works by past Spanish masters in three important concerts in Washington, DC, Chicago and New York City.  OnOctober 22, 2016, 2 pmLevin performs at the Former Ambassadors Residence, Embassy of Spain in Washington, DC, co-presented by the National Fulbright Alumni Association (already sold out).  On November 20, 2016, 7:30 pm, Levin performs at the Art Institute of Chicago as part of the2016 Chicago Latino Music Festival.  In early December, Levin will return to New York’s Le Poisson Rouge (date to be announced).   




Adam Levin has been praised by renowned American guitarist, Eliot Fisk, as a “virtuoso guitarist and a true 21st century renaissance man with the élan, intelligence, charm, tenacity and conviction to change the world.”  Levin has performed across the United States at renowned venues such as Chicago’s Pick Staiger, Nichols, James Lumber Performing Arts and Mayne Stage concert halls, Boston’s Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, Museum of Fine Arts, and Jordan Hall, Spivey Hall in Atlanta, Le Poisson Rouge in New York City. In Europe, Levin has performed in some of the finest venues across Spain, and in Italy, Germany, and Switzerland.  Adam Levin’s live performances have been featured nationally numerous times on NPR’s Performance Today and on top radio stations WFMT Chicago and WCRB Boston.


In the 2015-2016 season, Levin made solo appearances at Boston GuitarFest in a program highlighting composers of Spain, as well as concerts in Pittsburgh, Detroit, Kansas City, Knoxville, Des Moines, South Bend, Chapel Hill, Richmond, and San Jose, plus international tour appearances in Canada, Spain, and Puerto Rico. Levin also made his Kennedy Center debut in November, 2015, in a diverse solo and chamber program presented by Pro Musica Hebraica, featuring the Amernet String Quartet and mezzo-soprano Rachel Calloway, praised by the Washington Post as “a visceral and imaginative performance.” Levin appeared as a special guest artist in new music programs with the Quantum Ensemble of Spain, and a concert featuring the music of Leonardo Balada (with the composer present) with Ensemble Concept/21 at Indiana University South Bend.


The recipient of numerous top prizes, Adam Levin has been recognized by the Society of American Musicians, the Lake Forest Concerto Competition, Minnesota’s Schubert Competition, Boston GuitarFest, Concurso Internacional de les Corts para Jóvenes Intérpretes in Barcelona, Concurso Internazionale Di Gargnano, and Certamen Internacional Luys Milan de Guitarra in Valencia. For his promotion, interpretation and performance of Spanish music, he was nominated for the 2011 Trujamán Prize, in which only three guitarists worldwide are selected annually.


From 2008-2011, Levin was honored as a Fulbright Scholar as well as grant awards from the Program for Cultural Cooperation Fellowship (promoting cultural understanding between Spain and the United States) and the Kate Neal Kinley Fellowship, to research contemporary Spanish guitar repertoire in Madrid, Spain. His three-year residency resulted in a major collaboration with 30 Spanish composers spanning four generations, who each wrote works commissioned by and dedicated to Levin.  In 2012, production began on a four volume encyclopedic recording project with Naxos.  The first recording in the series, 21st Century Spanish Guitar, Volume 1, was released by Naxos in 2013 to rave reviews from Classical Guitar Magazine, Soundboard, American Record Guide, Scene Magazine and bothRecording of the Month and Recording of the Year awards from MusicWeb International. 21st Century Spanish Guitar, Volume 2 will be released by Naxos in October, 2016, with special solo concerts scheduled in Washington, DC (presented by the Spanish Embassy and National Fulbright Alumni Association), the Chicago Latino Music Festival at the Art Institute of Chicago, and New York’s Le Poisson Rouge.


Levin’s critically acclaimed discography also includes his debut album, In the Beginning[ALR, 2009], Music from Out of Time [La Communidad de Madrid, 2010] featuring world-premiere solo and chamber works by contemporary Spanish composers; and Fuego de la Luna [Verso, 2011] showcasing the complete guitar works of Spanish-Cuban composer Eduardo Morales-Caso.


An avid chamber musician, Levin has performed with orchestra, string quartet, and various instrumental and vocal duo combinations.  His primary chamber ensemble, Duo Sonidos, has been celebrated for bringing a fresh interpretation of chamber music to wide-ranging audiences across the globe while expanding the repertoire for violin and guitar through new commissions. In 2010, Duo Sonidos was awarded first prize at the Luys Milán International Chamber Music Competition in Valencia, Spain.  Their 2010 self-titled debut recording received rave reviews from Classical Guitar Magazine, Soundboard, American Record Guide, Fanfare, and included a US Choice award from BBC Music Magazine.  The duo also will record their second disc featuring folk‐inspired works by Béla Bartók, Xavier Montsalvatge, Karol Szymanowski, Lukas Foss, Jorge Muñiz, and other newly arranged works by Gregg Nestor. With their commitment to perform also in non‐traditional venues, Duo Sonidos will also present a special program of works by Jewish composers and non‐Jewish composers inspired by Judaism across the United States.


As an ambassador of the guitar, Mr Levin is dedicated to sharing a comprehensive repertoire in underserved and unconventional spaces.  He was director of the Concert for Golf Coast Aid for Hurricane Katrina victims, which raised $10,000.  In 2007, he was awarded the Albert Schweitzer Fellowship to conduct 200 hours of innovative community work in Boston public schools, prisons, and rehabilitation centers.  Demonstrating his long-term commitment to music advocacy, Levin and acclaimed guitarists, Matthew Rohde and Scott Borg, launched Kithara Project ( in 2015, a non-profit organization devoted to promoting the widespread and equitable access to the guitar worldwide.

A native of Chicago’s North Shore, Adam holds bachelor’s degrees from Northwestern University in Music Performance, Psychology, and Pre-Med. Under the tutelage of Eliot Fisk, Levin completed his master’s degree in guitar performance at New England Conservatory in Boston. His esteemed teachers have included Oscar Ghiglia, Gabriel Estarellas, Anne Waller, Mark Maxwell, and Paul Henry. Adam is the director of the annual Boston Young Guitarists’ Workshop (, which will expand to weekends throughout the academic year culminating in the Boston Guitarfest.  Levin is on the faculties of the University of Rhode Island and the University of Massachusetts at Boston. Adam Levin is a D’Addario Artist and performs on a guitar by luthier Stephan Connor.


Tags:  naxos  press release  recordings 

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Otto Tolonen nominated for the Best Classical Album of 2015 Emma Award

Posted By Erin Young, Monday, March 14, 2016

Congratulations to Otto Tolonen on his nomination Finland’s distinguished Emma Award! Tolonen’s album Royal Winter Music is one of four recordings that has been nominated for best Classical Album of 2015.  

For more information visit:

Otto Tolonen's Website:

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