Reviews 03-24-2010

Music Reviews 



My Love To You

by Mark Pinkus

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My Love To You is the sixth release from Canadian pianist/composer Mark Pinkus. Classically-trained from an early age, Pinkus began composing as a child and obviously feels very comfortable with a variety of musical styles that range from tender ballads to ambitious concept pieces. The fourteen compositions on this album have strong melodies and express a fascinating assortment of emotions and experiences. Pinkus’ classical roots are obvious, but his music is very accessible and doesn’t utilize a lot of flashy technique unless the music calls for it.

My Love To You opens with “Victory,” a piece with two major themes, one of which is strong and march-like and the other much gentler and more delicate. Pinkus effortlessly weaves these diverse themes into a seamless whole. “So Long” is an enchanting song without words and one of my favorites. Graceful with a touch of melancholy, the piece conveys emotions that are honest and ring true. “Conversations Between an Old Woman and a Young Man” is an amazing dialogue with two distinct musical voices. The old woman’s voice is slower and more confident while the young man’s is light, carefree, and perhaps a little reckless. “Never Let It Go Away” is a sweet and gentle love song. “Walking in Time” is another favorite. The mood is light and relaxed, but there is an underlying energy that propels it forward. “Sparkles” is more of a concept piece. The main theme flows like light dancing on water; another theme is more frenetic like a spinning prism that sends sparks of light flying in all directions - a very visual piece! “Temple of Health” also has several themes. The first is calm and hymn-like; as the energy picks up in the bass of the piano, the treble soon joins the joyful race. The themes then alternate between reverence and high-energy, ending with a big grin. “Seashell Island” is my favorite. It begins very mysteriously in the deep bass of the piano. The main theme is gorgeous, conveying beauty, sadness, and grace. This island has a passionate story to tell! The fluid elegance of “Time To Forgive” touches the heart with its sweet tenderness. “Meditation Stone” is a bit more abstract, but demonstrates another facet of Pinkus’ composing styles. Slow, mysterious, and very relaxed, it’s a lovely close to a great album. 

My Love To You is available from, Amazon, CD Baby, and iTunes.  Recommended!

Reviewed by Kathy Parson's Mainly Piano website reprinted with permission on Ambient Visions


Inner Voyages

by Christopher Boscole

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Inner Voyages is pianist/composer Christopher Boscole’s seventh solo piano release, following his very successful Presents of Angels. Boscole is a classically-trained pianist with a background in jazz and improvisational styles. He has been an educator and performing pianist for more than twenty years, and obviously feels completely at one with his piano. Blending a wide range of musical influences with his very impressive playing style, Boscole has the musicianship to express whatever he chooses at the piano and the sensibility to “keep it simple” when the music calls for it.

The only thing that bothers me about this album is Boscole’s humming on several tracks. Instead of getting lost in the music, I found myself rearranging things on my desk that were near the speakers to see what was causing the buzz. I’m sure the humming is a sign that Boscole is thoroughly enjoying himself, but I find it very distracting since it isn’t always in tune or rhythm with the music itself.

“ A Melody In My Heart” begins our voyage with a smooth, lyrical piece that exudes warmth and contentment. The title track is much more complex, with a left hand in constant rapid rolling motion and the right hand expressing a slow, dreamy melody - the contrasts are fascinating! “Heart of Romance” is a tender, graceful love song that evokes images of slow dancers and flowing gowns. “The Ice Skater” is one of my favorites. A piece with a Russian flavor, it alternates between a smooth, fluid style and flashy, sparkling one - much like the contrasts of a skater’s routine. “Princess Taiping” has a Chinese sound and is named for either The Tang Dynasty’s “Princess of Peace” or the replica of a Ming Dynasty junk built to sail from China to the US and back, but that sank shortly before it reached its final destination in April 2009. Very flowing and relaxed, it’s an elegant musical story either way. “Land of Sea and Sky” is another favorite. My impression is that the left hand is depicting the rolling wave motion of the sea while the right hand is the more solid earth - beautiful!  I also really like “Memories of Satie.” It begins with a variation on Satie’s “Gymnopedies,” and evolves from there, suggesting the original, but going in different melodic directions - a very effective tribute! My favorite track, “Cry of the Birds” is darker and more impressionistic. With the freedom and expression of a passionate improvisation, Boscole creates a vivid musical picture. “Suite Sunrise” depicts sparkling sunlight dancing on water as the sun slowly rises and sets the world aglow. And so ends our “inner voyage” - at least for now. 

Inner Voyages is a great choice for those who like solo piano with substance and exceptional playing. It is available from Amazon, CD Baby, and iTunes. Check it out!

Reviewed by Kathy Parson's Mainly Piano website reprinted with permission on Ambient Visions


Language of Flowers

by Eric Harry

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At first glance Eric Harry appears to be a newcomer to the music scene. With a mind blowing eight albums in the last two years, as well as being the founder of Calm Radio that is competing with the other internet radio stations, it appears that Harry is a very prolific artist. But what many of us may not know is that Eric has been creating music for commercials, television and even movies for over 25 years that have included his involvement with composers Jack Nitszche and Ry Cooder, famous for their contributions to the soundtracks for One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest  and Buena Vista Social Club respectively.

But how does his writing translate when he begins to create a full album of structured music?  If The Language Of Flowers  is indicative of his other full length cd’s then clearly we are about to see a musician ready to fully bloom.

Harry’s early influences are classical artists such as Debussy, Listz and Chopin to name a few and The Language Of Flowers shows that influence ever so lightly while mixed with the ingredients of New Age and Ambient influences. The latter is heard instantaneously with the opening track “Aphelion” that spaciously wanders for over 5 minutes. In complete musical contrast there is the very classical and compelling “Requiem”, while “Rain Rain Rain” is the benefactor of the more optimistic mood of a light and delightful waltz. The light and non-intrusive orchestration only adds dimension to the song as does “The Scent Of Attraction” that has a gorgeous melody. There is simply no filler found on this album. 

Despite, the multitude of recordings in such a short period of time, Eric’s efforts are not diminished as far as ideas, melodies, themes and arrangements are concerned as The Language Of Flowers is only one of many quality recordings that Harry has released. While the production is of good quality it would be nice to see Eric slow down and throw himself into a recording whose production and detail is equal in depth to the compositions that he so easily capable of creating. Nevertheless, The Language Of Flowers is one of 2009’s more impressive recordings.

Reviewed by Michael Debbage from the Mainly Piano website reprinted with permission on
Ambient Visions

A Star Danced

by David Wahler

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A Star Danced is the exciting follow-up to David Wahler’s award-winning 2009 debut, Antiquus. Wahler was recently named “Best New Artist” in Zone Music Reporter’s annual awards, and his new release firmly establishes him in the forefront of the new age, ambient, and contemporary instrumental genres. A variety of moods and emotions are expressed in the thirteen instrumental tracks which Wahler performed on keyboards (sampled instruments just keep getting better. I was sure the horn on tracks 1 and 13 was “real”!); the only other musician is guitarist Brent Gunter, who appears on track 3.

Where Antiquus was inspired by ancient myths and oracles, A Star Danced goes inward to reflect on the personal experiences of the composer. Graceful, dreamy, and beautifully recorded, the music is very personal yet easily accessible through common life experience and the universal language of music.

A Star Danced begins and ends with “Quest,” a musical tale that starts with the ethereal sounds of a dream. A short time later, much of the lead is played on horn (flugelhorn or trumpet), which gives the piece a colorful, cinematic sound. The tone of the piece suggests that the quest is ongoing, without a distinct conclusion in sight, but that the journey itself is the most important part of a quest. The title track is much more ethereal and ambient, creating a vision of dark deep space, slow movement, and twinkling stars - a massage for the mind. I love “The Seeds of Time,” which features Brent Gunter on guitar. Ambient sounds, haunting flute, and gentle voices provide an atmospheric backdrop for the beautiful guitar work. “Come Gentle Night” is an invocation to dream in blissful tranquility. I have a strong feeling that Debussy would be very pleased with Wahler’s electronic arrangement of his “Reverie.” The spirit of the original piece is very much intact, updated with contemporary instrumentation and sensibility. “Sigh Away Sunday” is pure rapture set to music, putting the weekday cares and worries a million miles away. “Vespera” is my favorite track, reminding me of George Skaroulis at his evocative best. Magic and mystery blended with a touch of melancholy create a mood of passion and deep longing. Wow! “Missing You” was composed and performed for Wahler’s father’s funeral - a beautiful tribute that overflows with tenderness and love. I also really like “A Rose Distilled,” an ambient piece with guitar, flute, harp, oboe and chimes that floats on a cloud of soothing sound. This is another fantastic album from David Wahler! 

It looks like we’re in the midst of another awesome year for new music, and A Star Danced is likely to be near the top of the pile of great albums! It is available from, Amazon, CD Baby, and iTunes. Very highly recommended!

Reviewed by Kathy Parson's Mainly Piano website reprinted with permission on Ambient Visions