Piano-Heaven Award Winner:

An American Composer

Tim Janis

Tim Janis Ensemble, Dawn Treader Productions

  2001

www.timjanis.com

 

 

 

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Tim Janis is a prolific composer. He is a pianist first and foremost, but his compositions usually feature the pennywhistle, flute and various stringed instruments. His music has its own "sound", and is generally very relaxing and beautiful.

In 2001, Tim Janis set about an enormous challenge- to record an album and perform live with the American Symphony Orchestra. This took place at the Alice Tully Hall, Lincoln Centre. As can be seen from the images from the album's cover, Tim took on the role of conductor, although his piano can be heard on several tracks.

Tim rose to the challenge admirably, and this album to this day remains one of my favourites.

This album is essentially divided into two. The first half is a studio recording. The music offered is fine- perfectly enjoyable to listen to, but not outstanding. However, that all changes with the arrival of Track 10, "Music of Hope", as this heralds the "live" part of the album. The addition of a real orchestra (and a substantial one at that- I have the video of the concert), embellishes Janis's existing recordings and takes them to a whole new level. The sound quality is fantastic, and every time I listen to the CD, I cannot get over how much of a difference the orchestra makes to Janis's compositions. They are quite classical in form, but very easy to listen to and melodic. Typically, as with the first live track, they feature quiet sections, followed by sweeping movements involving all manner of instruments.

Janis's piano can often be heard at the start of each track, before the orchestra take over, presumably so that Janis can return to his conductor role. The second live track, "Twin Lights" is a favourite. Opening with a delightful piano melody, solo flute and pennywhistle soon join in, followed by a grand accompaniment  as the piece develops. Very easy on the ear, this is one that most listeners will really enjoy. The third track, "White Mountains" is my absolute favourite cut on the CD. It follows a similar path to its predecessor- a gentle, lovely piano opening, with the addition of flute and pennywhistle, followed by a plethora of strings and horns during the chorus. Quite a fanfare! This is a tremendous piece! Blue Hill Bay (Track 13, and the fourth live track) again sees piano at its opening, before the addition of other instruments to great effect. Very majestic!

"Seascape" features a lovely little melody and paints a coastal picture in my mind. Very grand in parts, quieter in others, I see the waves lashing the shoreline, the squawking birds hunting for food, and can almost smell the salty air. Janis is from Maine, New England- an area well known for its stunning coastline. "Cry of the Blue Whale" gets off to a thumping start. It quickly settles for a moment before the orchestra really give it their all. Could they be representing in music the huge beast in all its glory at this moment? The quieter sections, I imagine, capture the whale at play, and what must be the very beautiful sight of it travelling through the water. "Water's Edge", the seventh live track, and track number 16, has a delightful flute opening, played by Cinnamon Credeen. This is soon replaced by the violin of Eunhee Elllie Kang. Just one wrong note (which grates every time I hear it!) but apart from that, it is expertly played. The flute returns, and carries the heavenly melody. The orchestra give the piece added dimension. I really enjoy listening to this track. Track 17, "Ocean Heights" is one of the quieter live tracks, although it has its moments. Very soothing!

The penultimate track, the popular "Flowers in October" again sees Janis on piano at the start, before the addition of the full orchestra. This track has a very pleasing melody. The piano returns in the middle of the composition and makes fleeting appearances thereafter, before the orchestra take the piece to its climax. I am extremely fond of the final track- Janis's take on the extremely well-known "Amazing Grace". This features the stunning (and there is no other word) voice of Gwendolyn Leathers. I love the vibrato in her voice. She has an extremely powerful voice, and the combination of her singing with a live orchestra is simply irresistible. The audience clearly appreciate her contribution to the concert, as she receives resounding applause.

 

An ambitious project for sure, but one that Tim Janis pulls off fantastically well. The ten-track "live" section of the CD, with the American Symphony Orchestra, is worth the price of the CD alone. I love listening to this CD, and give it my highest recommendation. This is music of the highest quality!  

S.C.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tim Janis

An American Composer in Concert

Tim Janis

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tim Janisís Picture

Tim Janis