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On the Edge of A Dream by Robin Spielberg
- posted by Steve Sheppard on 6/6/2018
Fly on the wings of hope with the luscious tones
I first came into contact with Robin Spielberg back in 2015, with the release of the beauty that was Another Time, Another Place. Now some three years later, her latest album On the Edge of a Dream sits on my desk to be reviewed, I admire the true sensitivity of the artist, so this is truly going to be a voyage of pleasure for us as we explore this musical wonderland of solo piano.
We proudly start with the title header, On the Edge of a Dream. It has to be said that Spielberg’s delicate approach to this opening piece deserves applauding, she creates an almost mirrored pool of a piece, something so gentle and calming, and while doing so manifests a perfect lullaby beginning to our perambulations through the album.
On We Meet Again we have a track that seems to beautifully dance into our lives, one can perhaps visualise two long lost lovers meeting on either side of a sun kissed room and, for a moment, they just stand and enjoy the energy of reconnection. Spielberg has really captured a perfect flow within this piece that has to be admired.
Drifting was by far one of the most ambient offerings from the release; this gives us an opportunity to just float with the tones created. The delicacy of the artist here is amazing to just drift with, and the aforementioned ambience is a musical gift to absolutely treasure.
The mystical elements of Spellbound were really intriguing to be surrounded by, the artist creates a clever juxtaposition between the suspense of the offering, and the total entrancement one feels while listening to it. I have listened to this arrangement a few times now and each time I do I fall further in love with it.
The subject of Nightfall is a dominant theme within music, and as such a layer of mood must be achieved to succeed in this, that energy and calmness is attained by Spielberg with ease, she even adds to that with a sparkling performance that doesn’t just create a blanket of blue sky, but also a vast array of glistening stars as well.
As we drift serenely into the arms of the next piece entitled The Secret Path, we can become completely at one with the moment, and allow ourselves to find our way through the woods to our very own secret path. The tender and careful performance here is one that is respectful of nature’s gifts, whilst creating a lush musical narrative that manifests a true musical vista of the subject matter, a simply beautiful piece to behold can be found right here.
So we have arrived at the top of the musical hill, and as we gaze down into the green fields of tone below, we firstly listen to an anthem of serenity and tranquillity entitled Stargazing. This is something we do here with a grateful regularity and usually in our pool; this magical moment of music would be the perfect accompaniment for that blissful dream filled slice of star filled time.
We move slowly now towards the latter half of the album, you won’t want to miss a single thing, like this next masterful opus entitled Calling All Dreamers. This is Spielberg in full flow and perhaps this could even be an anthem for all who wish to dream positive thoughts of tomorrow.
A slightly deeper and reflective motif can be found on this next opus called Illusion. A clever piece where you will literally hear the artist create the narrative as it occurs naturally, the melody has a little eastern feel to its construction as well, which in turn manifests a sense of mystical proportions, this is technically gifted and wonderfully performed.
The longest piece off the release at just less than seven minutes is the enticing and reflective Into the Night. The artist has gone into the depths here and produced a deep into the heart of the night arrangement that is quite addictive to listen to. For me this is a very well-crafted composition, one that at times almost drifts into the classical, but keeps its constant onward movement contained within the structures of a new age styled piano journey. This could well go down as one of the best pieces ever composed by the artist and maybe even within the solo piano genre, simply outstanding; this is musical story telling at its very best.
The soothing tones of Safe and Sound almost seems like the natural follow-on piece to the last offering, one can feel an energy of daylight streaming in through misty and dusty curtains that hang limply in the bedroom, and as the eyes open, slowly a sense of relief can be found, as you are Safe and Sound.
I guess if pianist Lynn Tredeau can have Lunch with Vincent, then there is nothing stopping Robin Spielberg from Meeting Monet. I’m a fan of his work, especially Waterlilies and here the artist meets the artist, and brings into creation a piece of music that one could with ease, walk through an art gallery and gaze with admiration at the works of Monet with, this is simply perfection in simplicity.
The penultimate offering, We Meet Again (Recurring Dream) is almost the shadow creation of the early piece of the same name, while the retention of the previous theme is held; one can detect a slight essence of apprehension within the arrangement. This is an extremely clever and intelligent opus, that seems to recreate itself, and in doing so adds an extra layer of intrigue on top of the last one.
So we finally drift into the safe harbour of the last track of the album, it is called Blue Moon Rising. That sense of ambience is once more laid bare within this offering, one also has the opportunity to bathe in the soothing pools and roam within the tones of this last offering, as it as spacious as the universe itself, a simply perfect way to leave the album indeed.
On the Edge of a Dream by Robin Spielberg is indeed an album that you will be able to drift off too at night without any problem at all, but it is much more than that. Here we have a release that has been so well crafted, that one will feel fulfilled and a sensation of calmness where bliss will be obtained with ease whilst listening to it. Robin Spielberg has on this album manifested a musical platform so artistically, with such sensitivity and care, that our very dream time perambulations may fly on the wings of hope within its luscious tones.
Rating: Excellent
Piano Improvisations, Vol. 1 by Peter Calandra
- posted by Steve Sheppard on 5/29/2018
Performed with class and style
I adore improvised work, especially Jazz and Piano and in a way this new album by Peter Calandra, Piano Improvisations, Vol. 1, caters for both of my preferences. I was a big fan of Keith Emerson and his improvisational work with Emerson Lake and Palmer and there is a little of Keith in some of the tracks off the release, particularly the opener entitled Carry The Torch.
Quite simply Calandra has produced a wonderful album of extremely fluent compositions, all fourteen of them, and each has its very own energy signature and will create a sense of ambience for your day. My personal highlights were, apart from the aforementioned track, the reflective and quite moving Two Days.
The ambience is also manifested quite brilliantly on the piece Distant Memory, one could literally get lost in this piece, then the minimalistic free form of Enchanted Forest, which truly does draw a narrative that is incredibly fascinating and mysterious.
Even my Jazz addiction is catered for with the almost Rag styled A 21st Century Monk and the very smooth, but intricate tones of The Second Wave.
If you have been searching for something different to sharpen your musical palette you would do well to add Piano Improvisations, Vol. 1 by Peter Calandra to your files, your musical senses will love you forever, this album is highly recommended to just chill too, a release performed with class and style from a truly professional performer of great skill.
Rating: Excellent
Time Not Forgotten by Rhonda Mackert
- posted by Steve Sheppard on 5/23/2018
Bathe in truly cathertic music
I first heard of Rhonda Mackert by listening to Dan Chadburn’s show Beyond Words on One World Music Radio, he featured a composition of hers which peaked my interest and some months later an album by Rhonda now lies on my desk to be reviewed, which is a most pleasant thought indeed.
This voyage of solo piano to be undertaken is called Time Not Forgotten, and we start by opening the portal to the first piece entitled Dancing Through My Memories. This is a very clever way to begin the album, one that conjures up images in my mind’s eye of a person dancing in the shadows of their own memories and by themselves, remembering fond times as they twist and turn across the dusty sunlit dappled dance floor.
The next track is superbly titled and called Walking Among Giants. I have listened to this specific piece several times now, as it really stood out for me and each time I do so I can feel then energy of greatness within the composition; it is also performed with such respect and precision and contains a very rich melody as well.
The title track is now upon us, that rich blank canvas that allows the musician to paint the very nature of the project that will unfurl before us. This arrangement has a sensitivity of its own; it is a gloriously cultured composition that is extremely listenable. Time Not Forgotten is a track that draws a moving and passionate musical narrative to hook us completely.
We now slide through the doorway of a track called Molokini, OK I had to look this up, and found many references to Hawaii. If this is about the partially submerged volcanic crater there, then it resonates perfectly with the subject matter in question. I personally found this piece very powerful, but also incredibly fluent, Mackert has created a blissful level of ambience into this delightful opus.
As we edge ever closer to the half way marker, we come across a very intense offering called Monsoon. As we let the rain fall, we can shelter from this weather by sitting in a hut and listening to the power of nature and its relentless character. Mackert has created a composition here that is incredibly visual and with a deliciously addictive tempo, one so good that whilst listening to this track I nearly forgot to breathe! Note to self, I must remember to breathe more often.
I must admit I have a fondness for this next one, I used to watch my cousin as he sat on the edge of the White Cliffs of Dover, that was so many years ago, but this melodic slice of genius takes me back to those wild open spaces and the vast ocean that laid before me. White Cliffs is an arrangement that is packed with many memories, perhaps like mine, but at all times manifesting a sensitivity of range and tone to create such a vast vista to gaze upon musically, and then sigh blissfully.
Interestingly enough this album has moved me emotionally a few times now and as we find ourselves in Spring on Greyrock Mountain, we have yet another opportunity to reflect on fond times and past reminiscences, the view through the music is simply sublime and very idyllic, with ease one can see the tapestry of multi coloured flowers on the mountain side, dancing in the breeze.
Rhonda Mackert plays with such an openness of heart, and on the piece Chasing Fireflies that is really emphasised. I saw this great spectacle a few times while in the mid-west of the U.S, and those fairy like lights that dance across the night sky are quite breath takingly beautiful as is the performance here, and played with the delicacy of the Firefly itself.
It’s always good to have Healing Places, I have several in the village where I live, although most are by the sea, all give me great peace and tranquillity when I am there. This piece of music would be perfect to share on those occasions when I need to avail myself of a little quiet time, this is simply charming.
I have heard much about Sedona; however I have never visited the location, but perhaps I can do so vicariously via this composition; Dreaming of Sedona can be my passage to this mystical place. Mackert’s performance here is delightfully confident and draws such a wide range of imagery for us to enjoy. There is also the momentum of an onward movement here, which adds weight to the sensation of a dream time sojourn in this most amazing of places.
We have arrived at the penultimate offering from the album, and we find a simple little piece called Skipping Stones. This childlike and gentle melody seems to take us back further in time, as more memories from a happy past are revisited, but within a happy and light essence about its construction at all times.
Sadly it’s time to leave this quite healing realm created thus far by pianist Rhonda Mackert, but before we go, the artist has one last musical gift to leave us with and it is called Free Floating. Another clever track can be found here, as the musician leaves with a flowing, but gentle tempo, one that almost seems to say thank you for listening, now just close your eyes and float onwards in peace.
Time Not Forgotten by Rhonda Mackert is one of those solo piano albums that simply delights you at every twist and turn of the project, the sensitivity of performance on this album is amazingly beautiful and worth applauding. Mackert’s artistic endeavours have manifested something here that truly allows one to reflect and heal, while each and every arrangement has been meticulously put together with such intelligence and grace. This is a must buy album for anyone who has a desire to bathe in truly cathartic music.
Rating: Excellent
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