What the critics say:
“It is easy to get the impression that the only really good pianists come from abroad, but Louis Demetrius Alvanis has lived all of his years in London and is one of the very best. He gave a Wigmore Hall recital that I shall remember for its pounding, insistent rhythmic drive, and a vigorous logic aimed irresistibly at its finale. This is a man who knows how to keep an audience interested. He played Beethoven’s Waldstein Sonata in the light-headed spirit of an overture. The opening motif was a rubber ball bouncing 16 times with a semiquaver tail each time no matter what key. Backs stiffened; ears were pert. The music’s heart beat quickly and so did mine.....amid shimmering right hand chords, Alvanis picked out essential melodic lines and daubed them onto the evening, like a graffiti artist out on a spraying spree. His touch was magical. The music swelled powerfully and the piano roared. It was one of Gaspard’s more eventful nights.....the sound is with me still.” EVENING STANDARD
“Louis Demetrius Alvanis gave a gripping recital at the Queen Elizabeth Hall. He commands a prodigious technique which he deploys with disarming ease. More important, though, is the way in which this natural gift is directed to the heart of what he is playing. So Beethoven’s Sonata in E flat Op 31 No 3 flowed easefully forward with every attention to its blend of structural tautness and lyrical charm. Two short but colourful pieces by the pianist’s father, Donis Alvanis, were played with coruscating colours. An aspect of Alvanis’ musicianship which found spectacular expression in a magnificent account of Scriabin’s Sonata in F sharp Op 53. This is a work of immense imaginative power, and Alvanis showed himself wholly at one with its special world. So to Chopin, and a convincing blend of technical mastery with poetic intuition in that composer’s set of studies Op 10. The music’s wide range was fully compassed, and I particularly liked the way in which this artist revealed Chopin as a man of passion instead of the milksop so often presented to our doubtful gaze.” MUSICAL OPINION
“His fingers are capable of doing anything required of them at whatever the speed.” THE DAILY TELEGRAPH
“Mr Alvanis presented a programme containing only two works, Bach’s Partita No.1 in B flat and the Appassionata Sonata by Beethoven, at the lunchtime concert at Fairfield on Tuesday. Each of these gave him a fine opportunity to display his superb keyboard technique and highly developed interpretive powers. Dexterity is the keyword in the Partita, but the ability to maintain rapid fluent fingerwork is not enough, and such was the control that Mr Alvanis had over his flying fingers that each of the movements was endowed with its own particular character with apparent effortless ease. The Gigue in particular possessed a relentless driving force, full of vitality and expression. In the Appassionata Sonata Mr Alvanis gave a riveting performance, full of drive and tension, interspersed with periods of exquisite tranquillity. My attention was particularly held in the theme and variations making up the Andante, which starts with a simple statement of measured calm. In the performance I felt that each succeeding variation was leading me onwards, pausing now and again for breath, until it burst forth into a blazing allegro of untamed vitality...the finale was breathtaking in the excitement generated.” CROYDON ADVERTISER
“The recital given by pianist Louis Demetrius Alvanis at the Queen Elizabeth Hall on 1 November proved memorable for more than one reason. It is not often that one encounters such command of really soft playing; all too often nowadays a dull mezzo-forte is the lowest dynamic region plumbed by pianists who were surely taught to do better in their salad days. In an interesting group of small Chopin pieces published posthumously - a Largo, Nocturne in C minor and Feuilled’Album - this artist gave shape and substance to music which might otherwise have seemed slight, simply by virtue of his mastery of gentle shifts of sonority and the subtlest touches of colour. But this was not all. In Chopin’s Four Scherzi Alvanis unfolded broad musical landscapes through a wholly legitimate use of strong dynamic contrasts: passion and tenderness, storm and calm, were all given their due recognition through immaculate tone control.” MUSICAL OPINION
“It was gratifying to note a predominantly young audience, including several children. The London -born pianist rewarded them with a solo programme of dual personality, rather as Schumann invented the the contrast between the imaginary Florestan and Eusebius in his own nature, and sketched them in his suite, Carnaval, included here. Before this, the introspective Eusebius predominated throughout the first part, beginning with a thoughtful and soberly balanced working out of the part-writing in Bach’s D major Toccata(BWV 912)...The extrovert Florestan came to the fore as soon as the pianist launched into Carnaval. Schumann’s pieces, like lightning mood-sketches with their fanciful titles, seemed to fire a latent romanticism in Alvanis’s assertive command of the keyboard. His flexibility and rhythm, and a precise use of the pedal to add colour and sonority.” THE TIMES
“Kyung-Wha Chung (violin), admirably partnered by Louis Demetrius Alvanis (piano), gave a performance of the utmost distinction in the National Concert Hall on Sunday. Depending on the interpreters, a piece of music can sound harsh or saccharine, hurried or dragging, slowly or dull; but Chung and Alvanis reminded one that among the reasons for listening to music is the pleasure of hearing a flowing and elegant line of melody, made alive by beauty of tone and subtle inflections of tempo and mood. Difficult passages were presented with seemingly effortless ease and the sudden transitions from Andante tranquillo to vivace in the slow movement of Brahms’s Sonata No.2 were of the most persuasive naÀturalness. That the players commanded a range of exciting forcefulness was most evident in Bartok’s Rhapsody No.1, but the overall impression of the evening was one of serenity, partly due to the restraint of the playing. No lapse into vulgar showmanship was allowed to mar the sheerly musical spell cast by the opening notes of the first work, Beethoven’s Sonata No.6. This was chamber music at its best, nicely adapted to the large space of the auditorium of the NCH, and highlighted by the almost orchestral tutti of coughing that erupted between movements, but only between movements. So great was the contrast between the composed music and the aleatory coughing that even the performers smiled.” IRISH TIMES
“The enthusiastic reception for the pianist Louis Demetrius Alvanis at the Wigmore Hall attested to his striking individuality of approach and finesse... Baroque style counterpoint was beautifully poised (Haydn:Sonata in A flat), allowing the decorative melody to glow with delicacy and hushed moments emerged with telling beauty.” MUSICAL OPINION
“Eusebius (Schumann:Carnaval) was as tender and expressive as I have ever heard it. This poetic vein was once again richly exploited in the E flat section of Chopin’s Ballade No.1 in G minor, while the Ballade No.3 in A flat and Liszt’s Mephisto Waltz No.1 contained some very exciting moments... Mr. Alvanis’s technique is almost incredibly secure.”
“went on to demonstrate in Rachmaninov’s Humoresque and Liszt’s Hungarian Rhapsody No.6 an even more phenomenal facility and whiplash rhythmic aplomb...a truly astonishing fire and force.” THE DAILY TELEGRAPH
“virtuoso wizardry” THE TIMES
"Following up on his first disc for Meridian (Hungarian Dances Nos.1-10, the five Studies and the Op.79 Rhapsodies on CDE 84268), Alvanis continues exploring the highways and byways of the Brahms canon. The most striking aspect of his approach to the often exuberantly virtuosic Hungarian Dances is the way he never allows the pyrotechnics to get the upper hand. Where some artists use the delightful No.18 as an excuse to push the accelerator pedal as far as humanly possible (even the sublime Julius Katchen isn't totally blameless in this respect), Alvanis never loses sight of the music's dance origins. The way he enchants the ear with the music's multi-layered rusticity from 1:06 onwards shows a rare sensitivity. Yet when the notes start flying (most notoriously in the outer sections of No.12) he imparts a glittering irridescence to Brahms's potentially opaque piano textures.....In the Theme and Variations (originally the second movement of the B flat String Sextet) Alvanis comes up against some formidable competition from Radu Lupu (Decca), who is nothing short of sublime in this repertoire. Yet Alvanis, at a daringly slow tempo, proves no less clear-focused, and when the music shifts into the major, he produces some magical sonoroties that› matches exactly the celestial quality of Brahms's inspiration. Recommended." INTERNATIONAL PIANO MAGAZINE
"Louis Demetrius Alvanis is a splendid pianist. Despite his exotic name, he was born in London. He made his debut at age nine. His teacher at the time was his father, who apparently contributed the superb program notes to this album. One only can envy Alvanis what must have been a supremely cultured upbringing, which led to a highly civilized approach to music making. Alvanis studied both piano and composition at the Royal Academy of Music.....He possesses a big sound and a fine technique, but there is nothing exhibitionistic about his playing. Alvanis presents an almost Brendel-like clarity of purpose, fully infused with the sound world of the composer. His sense of structure is keen, yet he maintains freedom within it. As Rudolf Serkin said of Toscanini, this is “architecture with passion”.
Chopin’s First Sonata, written when he was 17, is rarely recorded....Alvanis’s recording by far is the best I know. The first movement here almost has the feel of a Bach fantasy, with organ-like sonorities—particularly in the left hand. The maestoso effect is strangely reminiscent of Busoni’s transcriptions of Bach. The second movement, minuetto, has the quality of a Schubert impromptu. Alvanis phrases the subsequent larghetto affectionately. The program notes compare the opening of the finale to Schubert’s Wanderer Fantasy, published four years before the sonata’s composition. Certainly Alvanis seems very comfortable with Chopin’s working out of the prevailing style galant.
In the next two sonatas the recorded competition is fiercer, but Alvanis is up to the challenge. The first two movements of the Second Sonata are very impetuous, offering youthful high spirits in dramatic contrast to the funeral march. Chopin, after all, only was 29 when he completed this sonata. The B section of the second movement springs to life under Alvanis’s hands with a subtle rubato. The funeral march possesses an orchestral sense of color, featuring a broad palette. Alvanis pedals the B section of the movement sensitively. In the Third Sonata’s opening movement, the playing is maestoso in its harmonic richness. This definitely is not simply the top line Chopin; even the quietest moments are contrapuntally subtle. The A section of the scherzo shows great dexterity. The next movement offers a truly slow largo. The bel canto lines of its melodies are paired with harmonic coloring familiar from Beethoven’s last three piano sonatas. Martha Argerich’s 1967 live recording is as slow as this, but lacks the tonal shadings of Alvanis. This finale has a big conception, with a ringing, infectiously rhythmical bass.
Meridian’s sound engineering is excellent, full and detailed....I think you really have to hear Louis Demetrius Alvanis in the First Sonata, yet in the other two he also ranks high in my estimation. This is playing of a gifted and greatly cultivated Chopin pianist. Alvanis is an artist who makes most other pianists sound just a wee bit routine."
FANFARE MAGAZINE, USA
“The pianist on this disc is the young London-born Louis Demetrius Alvanis and he throws himself into this repertoire(Brahms:Hungarian Dances, Piano Studies, Rhapsodies Op.79) with considerable abandon. He also boasts an impressive technique". CD REVIEW
"I very much enjoyed Louis Demetrius Alvanis’s way with these elaborate essays in the Tzigeuner style - the dances cry out for sensitive, expressive, witty rubato and precisely judged tempo changes, and he provides these admirably as if he’d spent his life as a gypsy fiddler. He also brings to bear an impressive range of keyboard colour, and such gems as Nos 14-17, which I previously knew only from the piano-duet versions and various orchestrations by other hands, sparkle to fine advantage ...Alvanis’s poetry and plasticity of line are much to be prized. The recording has an inviting and very pleasant ambience, adding warmth in turn to my recommendation." Performance **** Sound ****BBC MUSIC MAGAZINE
"Louis Demetrius Alvanis is doing sterling work for the Meridian label, and has numerous releases to his name. The Chopin solo piano sonatas are frequently coupled with other flotsam rather than gathered together on one disc, and with the less frequently recorded Sonata No.1 this is a useful programme..... The best known Chopin sonatas are numbers 2 and 3, and my reference here is Evgeny Kissin on RCA. His playing is by no means all things to all people, but if you want a passionately expressed view by which to compare others then his is pretty emphatic.The Sonata No.2 opens with one of those highly dramatic statements, and there’s plenty of ‘symphonic’ piano writing to get your teeth into. Alvanis’ contrast between this and the beautifully lyrical second section isn’t quite as wide as with Kissin, but everything is nicely phrased and punchy enough....Alvanis’ warmth of lyricism later on is highly atmospheric, more nostalgic than extrovert and the more appealing for that. The famous Marche Funèbre is one of those movements which can run the risk of becoming too over-laden with symbolic feeling, and Alvanis gets the balance right in my view, moving the pace along and not stopping to pick grief-blackened lilies on the way. Kissin has a tendency to explode in gestures of Greek tragedy which can have its own power, but wears a little heavy after a few hearings. The wonderful central melody can be seen as a kind of ecstatic arrival in heaven, as with Kissin, or a consoling embrace from a close friend or family member, as with Alvanis. The remarkable Finale is done by both pianists in almost exactly 1:30, Alvanis almost secretive with those runs, Kissin pedalling them into a Turneresque storm scene."
"Alvanis has a polished technique that seems effortless, and his handling of Chopin's toughest passages is admirable.....his consistent and controlled interpretations present the music on its own terms, and he leaves it to the listener to be duly impressed with his fine playing." ALLMUSIC