Saturday, October 25, 2008

Michael Perlowin Presents Unique-Sounding Classical Music Inspired By Spain

Michael Perlowin breaks new ground with innovative and enjoyable music performed primarily and surprisingly on the pedal steel guitar.

As with his forays into the world of Debussy, Stravinsky and Broadway with his Firebird Suite and West Side Story albums, Michael Perlowin is again shattering the stereotype of the pedal steel guitar as a country-and-western-only instrument. In his new album, Spanish Steel, he presents 20 tracks from or about Spain, featuring works by Manuel de Falla, Isaac Albéniz, Joaquín Rodrigo, Julio Martinez Oyanguren, and Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov.

This new album sees Perlowin continuing to alternate between the use of the pedal steel as both a featured and ensemble instrument. However, this CD features Perlowin’s guitar work more than his previous outings, as the guitar is such an integral part of Spanish music. It is fair to say that this is not so much a "pedal steel guitar album" as it is an album of music in which the steel is predominantly featured for its unique expressive sound.

Perlowin, a veteran guitarist of the folk and rock music scene around L.A., became enamored of the pedal steel guitar after unexpectedly finding himself working on a country and western band during the mid-70s. His infatuation blossomed into an all-consuming love affair, an intensely passionate obsession that continues to this day. Perlowin jokingly calls himself a "steel-aholic," and adds that the intricacies and mysteries of the instrument cause most other players to feel the same way.

As a working guitarist, Perlowin had played just about every type of popular music, from standards, to folk, rock, country, blues, reggae and even disco. Playing pedal steel guitar, however, Perlowin found he was unhappy when confined to country and western music. He began playing the steel with musicians from various genres, including an all instrumental experimental music band, and a blues rock band ( ).

Eventually, it was the world of classical music that attracted Perlowin’s interest. A recording of Debussy’s "The Maid With the Flaxen Hair" by jazz guitarist Johnny Smith introduced him to the world of literate music. Perlowin explains, "As soon as I heard this piece, I realized that this was what I wanted to play." Perlowin’s own recording of the piece, which clearly shows Smith’s influence, can be heard on his first classical pedal steel album Firebird Suite.

"Everyone who plays classical music should be required to listen to this recording," said Mark Laycock, Music Director, Orchestra London, The Princeton Chamber Symphony and Guest Conductor of The Philadelphia Orchestra, Philharmonia Orchestra and Indianapolis Symphony. "Mike Perlowin is a musical genius who I am proud to know and learn from, and honored to have for a friend. I love this instrument, and this music and the beauty of these sounds delights my soul."

Perlowin had been marginally exposed to classical music when he was young, and has no formal musical or production training. Perlowin’s second album, West Side Story, shows his growth not as a player, since he had already mastered the instrument, but as a producer, arranger, and recording engineer.

However, it is with this third album that his mastery of the recording studio blossomed to match his talents as a virtuoso musician. On Spanish Steel, Dave Beyer played drums and percussion, while Bill Watkins contributed timpani samples to complement Perlowin on pedal and lap steel guitars, electric and acoustic guitars, fretted and fretless basses, sitar, mandolin, mandocello, 5-string banjo, autoharp and additional percussion.

Spanish Steel is a totally unique and original album fulfilling Perlowin’s goal of showing the beauty and expressiveness of the pedal steel guitar. Replete with fascinating liner notes, it is the best example to date of the depths of Perlowin’s enormous talent. Find it along with his other albums at,,; for reviews and images visit his artist website at


Michael Perlowin, SPANISH STEEL: Music from Spain by Manuel de Falla, Joaquín Rodrigo, Isaac Albéniz and others.

El Amour Brujo (Manuel de Falla)
1. Introduccion Y Escena (0:30)
2. En La Cueva (1:46)
3. Cancion Del Amor Dolido (1:25)
4. Danze Del Terror (2:03)
5. El Circulo Magico (2:45)
6. Danza Ritual Del Fuego (3:52)
7. Escena (1:00)
8. Cancion Del Fuego Fatuo (1:21)
9. Pantmima (4:14)
10. Danza Del Juego De Amor (2:23)
11. Las Campanas Del Amanecer (1:18)

Asturias (Isaak Albéniz)
12. Asturias (Leyenda) (5:43)

Conceirto Andeluz for 4 guitars (Joaquín Rodrigo).
13. Conceirto Andeluz for 4 guitars- Third Movement ( 7:05)

Fantasia Inca (Julio Martinez Oyanguren)
14. Fantasia Inca (3:12)

Capriccio Espagnol (Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov)
15. Alborada (1:15)
16. Variazioni (4:20)
17. Alborada (1:17)
18. Scena (2:16)
19. Canto Gatano (2:22)
20. Fandango Asturiano (3:38)

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