Quiet and highly atmospheric music conveying the magic of sparse textures and subtle harmonic progressions: “The Promise”, Tsabropoulos’ sixth album for ECM – and, in his own words, his “most personal” to date – offers eleven gentle miniatures, most of them originals, with the opening theme “The Other” as a recurring, though constantly varied, leitmotiv. Throughout, sophisticated phrasing and meticulous sound control are imbued with poetic sensitivity. The pianist’s first solo album “Akroasis” (ECM 1737; released in 2003) was based on ancient Byzantine Greek music, whereas his new pieces, following his intense collaboration with German cellist Anja Lechner and Italian percussionist U.T. Gandhi on “Melos”(ECM 2048; released in 2008), evoke similar oriental flavours while being informed by wider, more international musical contexts.
Although 90% of the music is written – the material was composed within a comparatively short period of some weeks before being recorded – it maintains the dreamy elasticity of spontaneously improvised ballads. “It is most important to me to work with a wide array of sonic colours in an almost orchestral mode. In some passages I imagine to have a string ensemble at hand, sometimes it’s a wind soloist I’m trying to evoke. Every single note has to be shaded and weighed most carefully, they all have to be treated as being part of a larger melodic line.” In his most recent music, Tsabropoulos who still today performs some of the great piano concertos on the concert platform quite deliberately relinquishes all virtuosity and outward effect. “It can be very easy to play many fast notes, however, for me, it’s a principle of life that less is more: simplicity is the most difficult thing to achieve. Both as performer and as a listener I’m trying to find beauty inside the things, in details and nuances and in parts which are not so obvious.” The listener is thus asked to take his time with the music, to concentrate and to discover his own path – therein lies the “promise” of this record.