Minnesota born composer Jacob Pavek follows up his promising 2012 debut Bloom with a lovely new album just released by Unperceived Records, a label recently founded by Harnes Kretzer. Illume is a collection of solo piano pieces and duets with violinist Leah Ottman that is unapologetic in its embrace of romantic sentiment, but many modern classical listeners may enjoy it for just that reason as it does so with brio, immaculate performances, and superb recording values.
Tender solo pieces open and close the album (‘Stairs’, ‘Wedding Song’) and feature at its midpoint (‘Joey’, ‘If I Forget About You, I’ll Never Wake Up’). In between these we have the cascading arpeggios of ‘Tonight, Tomorrow’, the majestic title track, and a variety of enchanting duets such as ‘Seasons’ with its exquisite balance of expressive emotion and minimalism and ‘Yield’ with its rush of soaring strings.. Also a nice touch is the stunning ‘Dreams of Light’, a solo piece which allows Ottman to create an evocative soundscape on her own.
As the modern classical field begins to crowd with treated piano sounds and abstract experimentation, Pavek choice of richly sonorous grand piano matched by Ottman’s impeccable violin playing is a breath of fresh air. Illume may direct and uncomplicated, but it is also pure, elegant, and undeniably beautiful. The format and the music may be intimate, but it projects a resonant concert hall aura that captivates.
Illume is available digitally and on CD on the Unperceived Records Bandcamp.
Listen to ‘Seasons’