The release of a new album by Sophie Hutchings to coincide with Piano Day 2017 has been one of the year’s most pleasant surprises. Having beguiled us with the dreamy abstractions of Wide Asleep (Preservation) which only came out last summer, Yonder finds Sophie in a more ebullient mood as radiant melodies ripple and flow from her piano with pure élan.
Based in Montreal, Québec, Moderna Records is a recently founded label that has quickly established itself as a home for wonderful new voices in experimental and modern classical composition. Having introduced many listeners to artists such as Veronique Vaka, Ed Carlsen, and Tim Linghaus, they do it yet again with the debut solo album by Japanese composer & pianist Daigo Hanada. Written in Berlin and Tokyo over the course of a year, Ichiru is a collection of intimate vignettes recorded with only an upright piano, a pair of microphones and two hands.
Diary is a new collection of thirty solo piano improvisations by Bafta-nominated and Emmy award-winning composer Michael Price, a bounteous and enchanting offering that any lover of contemporary classical music would be more than happy to take at face value. But, Diary is more than a simple collection of songs; it is a window into very creative process of the composer. Compiled over a six-week period, Price began each working day with a new improvisational piece recorded in a single take, allowing the project to unfold as an unguarded and unedited musical journal of his thoughts, mood, and level of inspiration.
In this video, the disarmingly self-effacing Price pulls back the curtain even further as he talks about the project and the sometimes surprising patterns and insights it had to reveal.
Among the many compositions, albums, and events coming our way for Piano Day 2017 will be the release of the third in a series of beautifully conceived EPs by composer Garreth Broke featuring special watercolor and ink artwork by partner and frequent collaborator Anna Salzman. Entitled March, these four new solo piano pieces underpinned by subtle organ textures are an exploration of “cycles and returns”, in particular coping with grief and the journey from loss and disappointment to renewal and hope.
“Even when it’s not apparent, grief is always there. Once you have it, it is always a part of you. The challenge is to allow it to be without allowing it to rule. Nature shows us how.” – Garreth Broke
Featured here in an exclusive premiere is the video Anna created for the song ‘Hinterland’ which moves across an abstract landscape she created in watercolor and ink on a three meter long leporello (a concertina style fold-out book), once in the initial presentation of the melody and again from an inverted perspective as the melodic hues turn a darker shade. Continue reading
Enjoy an exclusive premiere of the beautiful new song “Lucien” from the forthcoming debut solo piano EP by Freya Lily. Due for release on March 23, ‘The Dream’ will be available on Spotify, iTunes, and other digital outlets.
Born in the Devonshire countryside and now based in London, Freya Lily has been studying classical piano and composing for years, but due to stage fright, she had never played her work to others until a chance encounter at a party where she discovered an upright piano in a side room and decided to test out some recent compositions. After playing, she turned around to discover the rest of the house party now in the room and received an overwhelming response to what became an albeit impromptu first outing for her music.
On his most fully realized album to date, composer/producer Paddy Mulcahy offers up eight beautiful experiments in juxtaposing solo piano minimalism with vibrant synthesizer constructions. While some of his previous releases demonstrated Mulcahy quite capable of inventively sketching and improvising in a compressed time frame, the music on The Words She Said was cultivated over a two-year period
The album was started in the Summer of 2015 during a recording trip around Germany and London. Paddy then continued to work on the album while finishing his BSc degree in Music Production at Limerick Institute Of Technology. The album was inspired by the similarities and contrasts between pianos and synthesizers, and this relationship was conveyed through the use of various recording and mixing techniques.
The past six months has seen a small flurry of solo piano recordings from Akira Kosemura , a Tokyo-based recording artist and composer & sound producer for film, stage, and television. This travelogue features a quartet of releases, two from Kosemura’s own Schole Inc. label along a with a pair that find a fitting home on the prolific 1631 Recordings, each with its own unique character & charm.
Love Retained is a series of mostly solo piano sketches by Ian Hawgood, also known as the founder of the trail-blazing Home Normal label, album mastering wizard, and all-around friend & advocate of so many DIY musicians who make experimental ambient & modern classical music. The sketches were originally intended as starter material for collaboration, but Hawgood came to see them in a different light as he reflected with disarming and courageous candor about his struggles with depression and how it has interfered with his creative process in recent years (I urge you to read all of his eloquent liner notes which I will not do the disservice of attempting to summarize).
The recordings are simply tracked to cassette, and contain no editing or mastering, so you know, filled with ‘mistakes’. They are pieces I found really enjoyable to make, and have found I have increasingly enjoyed looping on low levels at night, or when the mind wonders/wanders. They are incomplete and yet it feels right for me to give this to friends, family, and anyone else that this connects to in some way. The incompletion is a beautiful and freeing thing. – Ian Hawgood
Since this blog began only a few odd years ago, we’ve seen the emergence of some wonderful new labels which are now fixtures on these pages – Eilean Rec., Moderna Records, and 1631 Recordings to name a few. But there is plenty of room for new voices and new ideas as evidenced by the recent arrival of Subtempo Records on the scene. The label founded last year by Rocco Tyndale will be focused on “left-field leaning, classical and electronic” music coupled with a strong focus on visual art and an emphasis on creating “long lasting pieces of art” and their first physical release is a delightful EP by Alejandro Bento, a self-taught pianist from Spain who also records electronic music as Axel Toben. Ripples is a triptych of solo piano pieces accompanied by a remix contributed by award-winning producer/composer Robot Koch. The heartfelt sentiments that come across in the music are just as Bento intended.
“These songs speak of origins and horizons. But most of all, they speak of love, friendship and care, of presence and joy. They speak of following the heartbeat and believing in one’s self and in others.” – Alejandro Bento
Alex Kozobolis could be seen as something of a creative nomad and a sort of renaissance man. He is a filmmaker and an outstanding photographer whose work runs the gamut from capturing fellow musicians in portrait and live performance, artistic album covers, and mesmerizing abstract images. He also composes music which until now had only been released in digital form. That changes with his forthcoming new record entitled Weightless, a collection of four solo piano miniatures followed by comparatively more expansive reworks created by Tom Adams, Siavash Amini, Hedia, and Transept which is to be released in striking vinyl and CD editions.
“The remixes and their respective artists were meticulously considered and approached with the intention of creating a cohesive album rather than a fundamentally detached congregation of unrelated pieces of music. Each artist was asked to interpret not only the music but also the title of the tracks.. The result, i think, and hope, is something which you’ll be able to listen to from start to finish and feel consistently engaged by…” – Alex Kozobolis
Chicago-based modern classical composer & pianist Lena Natalia follows up her recent Parisian diptych – Rendezvous in Paris (2106) and Sundays in Paris (2015) – with a fresh album of solo piano compositions entitled Second Youth, a collection of twelve enchanting pieces that feature her fluid and expressive playing and run the gamut from melancholic nostalgia to ebullient romanticism while always embracing an elegantly minimalist aesthetic and a cinematic eye.
Vhoir by Tim Linghaus is proof positive that it doesn’t take a lot of noise or flash to make a strong first impression. The debut EP by the German musician & composer consists of six modern classical sketches and vignettes of such exquisite construction and intimate warmth that one can hardly resist their consummate charms.