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Unbroken Dreams
By Josefine and Trine Opsahl
Label: Heart to Heart Records
Unbroken Dreams tracks
1. The Last Grasp of Winter
2. A Star in Heaven Is Born Tonight
3. Dawn/The Light dances My Love
4. Drifting on Silky Clouds
5. A Fairytale
6. Diving Into an Ocean of Love
7. I Am Your Moon and Your Moonlight Too
8. Somewhere in a Hidden Memory
9. Castle of Unbroken Dreams
10. Sterna Paradisae
11. Rosebed Garden
12. Norwegian Summer
13. Ladybirds and Butterflies
Josefine and Trine Opsahl - Unbroken Dreams
Coming seven years after their debut as a duo (2008's Leaving My Silent Empty House), Unbroken Dreams is the follow-up recording from Celtic harpist Trine Opsahl and her daughter Josefine who plays cello. It's a complete and utter triumph—a melding of classical and meditative new age that becomes a unique hybrid which will appeal to fans of both genres. So much more than a mere "relaxing" music recording, Unbroken Dreams is deep, rich, and rewarding. On the surface, one can appreciate the relatively sparse melodies (whether harp or cello is in the lead) as a soothing backdrop, but underneath that surface is music that delves deep into the sub layers of emotion, exploring nuance, shading, and artistic technique to a much higher degree than garden variety new age music ever ascribes to (which is not meant to belittle new age music, trust me).

As on their earlier album, Trine and daughter Josefine demonstrate a rare degree of simpatico, almost as if they were one musician playing two instruments simultaneously. This innate sensitivity and talent, this ability to intertwine musically with one another, translates into music which is soulful, delicate, beautiful, serene, and sometimes softly dramatic or intellectually challenging. At 23 years old, Josefine's command of her instrument is remarkable and prodigious and bodes a long and praiseworthy career ahead for her. Trine performs with a casual grace, so well-attuned to the sonic qualities of the Celtic harp that it's as if she and her instrument were old, dear friends. Influences can be heard from both the classical and new age genres and the mood can vary from serene and soothing to somber and introspective. What strikes me most, though, is the intimacy achieved throughout the album. While, at times, the music can be sparse, approaching mild minimalism, beauty is always present, flowing through Unbroken Dreams like a golden thread winding through an exquisite tapestry.

One thing that I appreciate the more I listen to Unbroken Dreams is the unselfishness of both artists and how easily they switch roles from lead to accompanist. This factor certainly contributes to the overall value of the recording as it makes it much more rewarding to delve deeply into, since it is anything but monochromatic. The music is not your cookie-cutter variety of harp relaxation music, as it becomes more complex (upon review) than that, although I am not saying this is avant garde either, but rather that the music on Unbroken Dreams can be plumbed into its depths time and time again and new appreciation can be found on each playing, e.g. a subtle dash of dissonance here, perhaps some minimalism there, and some more traditional overt romantic classical influences may surface occasionally.

However, the overriding element present throughout all of Unbroken Dreams can best be summed up by the words "casual elegance." Casual because this is wholly unpretentious music, borne of integrity, soulfulness, and deep emotional resonance, but also elegant in that nothing is extraneous, showy, or superfluous. One definition of elegant reads as "…pleasingly ingenious and simple" which fits this music well. It takes self-assuredness for a musician to exhibit confidence the likes of which Trine and Josefine do here, allowing their instruments to be a vessel for expression of the music itself without resorting to overt histrionics.

I know this review may read as somewhat high-handed or pretentious, but honestly, Unbroken Dreams is a recording that simply defies easy description. It needs, perhaps even requires, a deep personal connection to fully relate to its treasures. Yes, you can put this on in the background and, in that regard, it will be a wonderful soundtrack for relaxation, de-stressing, or whatever suits you. However, immersive listening of this superb album (especially on headphones) will (for those open to the experience) be revelatory. If you have seen the film Philadelphia and remember the scene where Tom Hanks' character achieves an almost rapturous state while listening to an opera recording, well, I would imagine that if you truly invest in the time and effort to dig that deep into Unbroken Dreams, it may just evoke the same reaction. This is as deep as music can get, no doubt partly due to the emotional connection between mother and daughter (honestly, how much more real can you get?). With the heart and soul that Trine and Josefine have invested in this album, it's fitting that the label it's released on is named "Heart to Heart." This is wondrous, magical, music. 'nuff said.
- reviewed by Bill Binkelman on 3/15/2016
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