Quiet Sunday afternoons and piano music just seem made to go hand in hand. Every note simply seems to sound more resonant and soothing and these four exquisite modern classical releases are as beautiful as they come in that regard. Featuring Julien Marchal (France), Dirk Maassen (Netherlands/Germany), Andrew Lang (Australia), and Federico Albanese (Italy/Germany).
Julien Marchal – Insight II [1631 Recordings]
Featured track: “XX”
Julien Marchal follows up his delightful full-length solo debut with a second volume, this time released on the prolific new 1631 Recordings imprint. Once again he spins a oneiric cocoon of melancholic reveries from dampened piano played with impeccable finesse, nicely varying mood, style, and tempo in a way that makes the running time of just over 30 minutes go by all too quickly.
Insight II is available both as a digital download and CD digipak.
Dirk Maassen – Zenith
Featured track: “Maienzeit”
Dirk Maassen has been fairly prolific of late and solo piano music lovers could start happily with just about any of his releases, but I find a particularly special stillness and elegance to this lovely collection of pieces full of fetching melodies and a playing style that is as dexterous as it is expressive – just two hands and 88 keys making beautiful music.
Zenith is available as both a digital download and Compact Disc.
Andrew Lang – Burnt Shades [Whitelabrecs]
Featured track: “Sun Comes Down”
Australian pianist Andrew Lang‘s full-length debut is performed on a piano purchased from a several years ago by his parents after having been used in a church preschool. According to the liner notes, Lang also challenged himself to play with just two fingers at any one time to free himself from the constraints of seeking complexity and he embraced the idiosyncrasies & imperfections of the instrument to create this enchanting set of music that has all the immediacy of a live performance. Simple, unpretentious pleasures ensue.
Burnt Shades is released on the Whitelabrecs specialty imprint as a digital download and on “vinyl effect” CD (unfortunately sold out at this writing) . The striking cover art is provided by Slovakian photographer Milan Očenáš
Federico Albanese – The Blue Hour [Neue Meister]
This gorgeous collection of piano-based chamber music miniatures by Milan-born, Berlin-based ‘piano poet’ Federico Albanese takes its inspiration from the transitional state between day and night, the twilight hours when the indirect light of a sinking sun reaches from below the horizon to cast the sky in a melancholic shades of blue. These gorgeous pieces evoke the same sense of awe, mystery, and longing as delicately layered electronics provide the ideal back-lit canvas for Albanese’s wistful melodies and fluid musical shapes. A perfect end of day companion.
Featured track: “Migrants”