I was first
introduced to the music of Elijah Bossenbroek
through Kathy Parsons' ‘Mainly Piano’ web-site. She
was full of praise for his second CD, Carpe Lumen.
I was sufficiently intrigued to make the purchase,
and it was a decision I have not regretted.
outset, it should be made clear that this is not
gentle, soporific music. In fact, I'm not even too
sure it features entirely piano- some of the tracks
sound like a keyboard has been used, although the
picture on the inside cover would suggest otherwise.
Certainly, the tracks have added electronic touches,
and these embellishments add the icing on the cake
to many of the pieces.
From the very
first track through to the end of the CD, the
listener knows they are hearing something fresh and
different- not to mention very special. This is
sit-up-and-take-notice piano music. It is music with
attitude. Piano music with balls. Elijah
Bossenbroek's performance certainly impresses. I
confess to having never heard of him before, but one
listen to this tremendous CD should ensure his
listeners come back time and time again, and they
are unlikely to forget his music in a hurry.
The CD opens
with the (perhaps unintentionally) amusing title, ‘I
Give Up’. It begins sedately enough- almost
hauntingly- but quickly reaches a crescendo. The
playing is frantic, almost out of control- and yet
Elijah's skill at the piano holds it all together.
One might imagine that the ensuing composition would
be difficult to listen to, but the reality is quite
different. Somehow, it holds great appeal and is
both melodic and structured. I particularly like the
accompanying poem by Tammi Richwine, reproduced
below. It creates the impression that the individual
is suicidal and is set to end it all. But this is
not depressing music in the style of Mimi Goese- to
me, this track conveys someone whose life is all
over the place, with barely a moment to stop. I love
Track two is
entitled ‘Prism’, a link to the album's title
presumably, which is Latin for "Seize the Light".
The Arizona pianist has certainly seized the moment.
In typical Elijah Bossenbroek fashion, the piece
starts off innocuously enough, twinkling along,
drawing in the unsuspecting listener. Calm.
Tranquil. The tempo and dynamics soon increase
however, and the piece becomes lively. Again, the
melody holds great appeal. ‘Prism’ comes round full
circle, and ends just as delicately as it begun-
perhaps we are seeing Elijah's music from all sides.
This is a lovely track, and is one of my favourites
on the entire CD.
‘Rest’ would imply a gentler piece, and to some
extent this is true. The opening to this track has a
Continental feel to it. It sounds to me like a
combination of piano and keyboard is at work here.
Again, the melody is lovely.
Track 4 is
entitled, ‘Life's a Stage Play’. It again features
exquisite piano / keyboard playing. It's a very
upbeat track and impossible not to like. It's
interesting that despite the vivaciousness of his
music, Elijah's compositions are still relaxing in
their own unique way. They won't send you to sleep,
but they will capture your attention through their
melodic appeal and invite the listener to take their
own special journey.
starts darkly. Something is wrong. This is almost
gangster music. The synthesiser embellishments add
to the intrigue. Soon a flurry of notes defuse the
situation somewhat, but the left-hand keeps the
suspense going. Things take a turn for the better
after 1:40- the tempo increases, higher notes are
used and a pretty melody comes along. But, as in all
the best films, just when the listener thinks all is
right with the world, Elijah delivers the killer
blow. A plethora of low notes, maximum volume...
disaster has struck! Soon the situation improves,
but once again the listener might be lured into a
false sense of security. Before long, Elijah is
hammering away at the ivories, and this time the
damage is irreparable. This track is tremendous fun
and is like a roller-coaster ride of emotions.
Faithful’ is the album's sixth track. Its opening is
intriguing- sounding like a military band. In comes
a delicate and quite beautiful melody. But the
reader will know not to fall into the trap again. A
few moments later, a sound of what appears to be a
jet taking off interrupts the quiet moment. The rest
of the track is quite restrained for Elijah, but is
still more dramatic than just about any other
composition found on Piano Heaven!
seventh track is entitled ‘Try to Keep Up’. I'm not
sure whether that is directed at the listener who is
probably breathless from all the energy of this
recording. Another quite delightful opening, and
then the pace quickens- but perhaps not quite as
much as on previous tracks. I love the happy melody
which shines through very clearly on this piece.
would indicate emptiness and solitude, and the
opening to this track is certainly sombre and
reflective. After about a minute, Elijah's fingers
get to work. Big, low notes emphasise the sadness
and frustration within this piece. It is quite
‘Full Cycle’ is
extremely beautiful. As ever, the piece develops. It
quickens, then slows and quickens again. It was
whilst listening to this piece that I realised that
I would love to hear extended versions of the
openings of all of Elijah's tracks- it would make
quite a wonderful CD I think. Elijah has an
undisputed ear for melody, and I think it would make
an interesting and engaging project.
Track ten is
entitled ‘Wonder’. Again, it is a reflective piece
with a gorgeous melody throughout.
debut CD, "Harmony in Disarray", my favourite track
by a country mile was, ‘A Song of Simplicity’.
Intriguingly, an alternative version appears as the
eleventh track, rather appropriately titled ‘A Song
Simply Remixed’. I like it very much, but it was
always going to be an uphill task to equal the
appeal of the original. I am sure this was never the
intention, and it certainly is captivating, but the
most endearing feature of the original was its
comparative simplicity, and this remix is slightly
more cluttered. That said, this is still a
Begins’ is the title of track twelve. It follows a
similar pattern to the other tracks on this CD, but
it was whilst listening to the album's final section
that I came to my second realisation: this is one
consistent man. Not one duff track in the CD's
entirety, and that is pretty good going. Many of the
pieces are structured in the same way, but the
melodies are always unique and consistently
Away’, the penultimate track, perhaps hints at the
desperation of the situation but equally holds great
appeal to the listener. I don't know how Elijah does
it- on the one hand, he is writing about people on
the brink, with his music frantic and despairing,
and yet he still makes the music endearing to the
listener... every time! This man
certainly has quite some talent.
count of the number of piano CDs I own that feature
‘Amazing Grace’. Fortunately, this being Elijah
Bossenbroek, the version appearing as the final
track on this CD is certainly not another
run-of-the-mill number. It's a glorious take on the
classic hymn. Elijah makes it his own, and having
come this far in the CD, I expected nothing less!
this is a superb CD and one that I highly recommend.
It is fresh and original, and will certainly clear
the cob-webs! Elijah Bossenbroek is an extremely
talented composer and pianist, and I look forward to
hearing more of his work in the future.