press

Here are reviews of some of my work.

solo piano

Regarding Ikkyu’s Dream:

“Philip Swanson has said that lyricism is at the heart of everything that he does. There is not a moment in this 11-piece collection of solo piano music that contradicts that maxim. He presents the material in a consistent manner that, under lesser hands, could produce monotony. There is a pervasive whiff of melancholy (Swanson prefers minor keys), restricted dynamics, and generally leisurely tempos, rendering an overarching sensibility with a concentrated purpose. The effect is, as the title song suggests, dreamy. These are mainly recordings of Swanson as an improviser, which is apparent in his style of playing, featuring a firm bass line in the left hand and a freely flowing rubato in the right hand. More than half of the songs bear Swanson’s name, but even when the original composers are such figures as Miles Davis ( Blue in Green , two takes), Richard Rodgers ( My Funny Valentine ), and Chick Corea ( Crystal Silence ), the personal imprint of Swanson is firmly felt.

Swanson admits influences from classical figures, especially Debussy, but the idiom of this music is essentially jazz. The tradition of that music is immensely rich and varied, but the sound of one figure rings out, a hero of Swanson, Bill Evans. His particular profile sounds through in two ways here: via Swanson’s pulsating, humanistic sense of rhythm, and especially, his infatuation with rich and intriguing harmonies. A jazz pianist could not wish for higher praise than to be mentioned in the same breath as Bill Evans. Philip Swanson has achieved something quite formidable, albeit with stealthy elegance, to conjure the comparison.”

– Peter Burwasser, Fanfare Magazine (read the entire article)

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Regarding Lengthening Shadows:

“…this material is consistently melodic and concisely made, it is filled with delicate filigree and sparkling harmonies. The shadows of Chopin and Brahms hover…several pieces have the unmistakable flavor of Vince Guaraldi…As a performer, Swanson displays an easy virtuosity that adds to the beguiling character of this CD….”

– Fanfare Magazine – November/December 2006

classical

Regarding Veni Creator Spiritus:

“Swanson produces striking results [in his Variations]…The harmonizations found throughout this haunting work are arresting and highly original…many of the chords work in quite unexpected but always affectively satisfying ways…Barbara Bruns’ transcription [of Rachmaninov’s Vocalise] is true to its spirit, and aptly exploits Swanson’s roundly mellow trombone tone…the 1967 Beckerath organ is effectively captured in its warm, clarifying, and sonically gratifying space…Hidas’ [work] brings this offering to a satisfying close…Barbara Bruns acquits herself admirably…”

Fanfare Magazine – November/December 2006

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Regarding Veni Creator Spiritus:

“This C.D. is first-rate in every respect”

– Diapason – January 2010

confluence

“I first heard J.D. Scrimgeour and Phil Swanson live at the Massachusetts Poetry Festival in Lowell. This album returns me to that magical afternoon when J.D., the poet, and Phil Swanson, multi-talented musician and composer, blended their talents. At times, the music serves to underscore the emotions of the poetry; other times the music asserts its own poetry. The effect is stunning. A true confluence of poetry and music, this album is a treat for the ear and the heart.”

Claire Keyes, poet, author of The Question of Rapture

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“Poet J.D. Scrimgeour and musician-composer Philip Swanson are engaged in a fascinating endeavor, exploring the parallel and entwined paths of syncopated poetry and meditative melody. Swanson’s piano and trombone passages are much more than ‘accompaniment,’ and Scrimgeour’s recited verse are not merely ‘lyrics.’ Both of these artists are deeply grounded in the classic literature of their respective traditions, and the results of this dynamic collaboration are resonant, eloquent, and enjoyable. Our audience for their performance in Robert Frost’s old barn were transported.”

Jim Schley, poet, former director of The Frost Place and author of As When, In Season

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“The marriage of poetry and music takes an uncommon combination of delicacy and drive. Confluence has both the touch and the strength as it melds the texts of J.D. Scrimgeour and other poets with the marvelous persuasion of Philip Swanson’s music. The result is seamless—at once brimming with lucid language and musical feeling.”

– Baron Wormser, former Poet Laureate of Maine