pianist Ralph Zurmühle has released three stellar
piano CDs, the first of which is featured here.
"Between" is a superb album which was released in
2000. Solo-piano in its entirety, this CD is both
intriguing and highly relaxing throughout. Ralph
Zurmühle, currently living in Spain, certainly is a
master of his art. His CDs are remarkably
consistent, maintaining an impeccably high standard
from beginning to end.
The CD opens
with a delicate piece entitled "The Beacon". It's a
short track, and sets the mood for what is to
follow. It's a lovely way to open the CD. Gentle,
melodic and utterly gorgeous! If only it could be
longer! Consider it as being like a very fine
starter in a lovely restaurant.
And so onto the
main course. What a feast! The treats just keep
coming and coming on this CD. "Farewell" is track 2,
and clocks in at a quite lengthy eight-and-a-half
minutes. Fans of Italian musician Ludovico Einaudi
might well appreciate this piece, as there are
definite similarities in style. It's another quiet
and reflective piece of music. A great strength of
Ralph Zurmühle is his ear for melody. Many a
composer goes for melody or atmosphere- one
or the other. However, this musician is blessed with
a gift, and manages to combine both seamlessly.
"I'll Find You
There" is the title of track 3. This piece reminds
me of the music of Russian composer Kostia, and the
fact that different tracks generate associations
with a range of composers I think is a strength of
Ralph Zurmühle. His CDs are always relaxing and
melodic, but never predictable, and the listener
never quite knows what is coming next. This track is
very beautiful. As mentioned in my review of
Zurmühle's latest CD,
another feather in the composer's cap is that his
pieces feel unrushed. They tell a story, and this
musician tells it like it should be told without an
eye on the clock. This track is over six minutes
long, and is fairly typical for this CD. I find this
track very uplifting. It's a feel-good piece, and
one that I can listen to over and over again.
Track 4 is
entitled "Prayer in the Night (for Arno)". I have no
idea as to the identity of Arno, but I am presuming
this is a musical prayer and it is dedicated to him.
It has quite a tense opening, yet retains its
relaxing qualities throughout. The left-hand
suggests something is wrong, the right hand gives
I mentioned at
the start of this review that this is an intriguing
CD. This is well illustrated by the fifth track.
There is no consistency in the track titles; they
vary enormously in subject matter. Track 5 is
entitled "Indian Child". After a delicate opening,
the piece develops into a jolly little number,
reminding me somewhat of a typical piece from Philip
Aaberg or George Winston. I have no idea as to the
identity of this Indian Boy, but as he grows, he
clearly turns into a lively individual. This track
is quite different from the other pieces on the CD,
particularly towards the end. One gets the
impression that Zurmühle is having a lot of fun in
playing this piece of music. It has a spontaneous
feel to it, and I like it very much!
Track 6, "The
Goddess in My Dream" sees a return to the musical
fayre more typical of Zurmühle. A slower piece, this
is a lovely, graceful piece of music. It certainly
has a heavenly feel to it.
turns into another fairly uplifting track. Far from
being a sombre piece, the music perhaps hints at the
obstacles ahead, but the mood of this piece is
overwhelmingly positive. It does become more
reflective at the end- perhaps suggesting a moment
of doubt or regret.
minute piece arrives in the form of "An
Improvisation for La Plana".
Castellón de la
Plana is the capital of a province in Eastern Spain,
and I am assuming this piece is referring to this
location. Located by the sea and clearly steeped in
history, the composer obviously holds this location
in high regard, and successfully captures the
natural beauty of the area. Less structured than
other pieces on the CD (as one would expect), the
music nonetheless takes the listener on their own
"The Queen and
the King Dancing" is the sort of title which I have
come to expect from this composer! If they are
dancing in this track, it is a slow-dance initially,
but graceful all the same. Definitely
ballroom-dancing material! The tempo gradually
quickens. Pieces such as this are fit for royalty.
One of my
favourite tracks on this CD (there are so many
highlights) is track 10, "My Pal Watson".
reminds me of the style of Wayne Gratz or possibly
William Watson. It's fun to listen to, and
exceptionally melodic. How I love this piece!
The title of
the album's penultimate track, "Lullaby for My Soul"
would suggest a gentle, soothing piece of music. It
does not disappoint. It is perhaps more uplifting
than the listener might expect from the title.
Zurmühle's ear for melody shines through once more.
As with all the pieces on the album, I can happily
listen to this track again and again. Such is the
quality produced by the composer.
It's back to
the food metaphor for the final track- a reprise of
"The Beacon". The listener has enjoyed a perfect
meal, and this is the glass of vintage wine that
rounds off the ultimate culinary experience.
really is an outstanding piano CD. For a debut
release, it is breathtakingly good! I am intrigued
by the abstract artwork on the cover. The CD is
nicely packaged with gold writing inside. No clues
are given as to the origins of the pieces, but this
reviewer will soon be pressing for answers in a
scheduled interview with the composer (September).
The recording quality is first-class. Fans of this
CD should check-out Ralph
other two releases: Communion and
One word can
sum up Between: Excelente!