There is much to be said about these Narada Compilation
CDs. They represent excellent value for money, and this
product contains no fewer than twenty-two tracks on two
CDs. Together with its companion CD, "20 Years of Narada
Piano", this CD showcases some of the finest music that
Narada has produced over the past twenty-five years or
so. It amply demonstrates what a force it once was in
the New Age piano world. Thank goodness for memories
Indeed, there is
an argument for snapping up this album while you can as, due to
the cruel world of economics and shifting changes of taste,
Narada as we remember it is no more. CDs like this one are a
thing of the past, which make the contents even more special to
the discerning listener.
The first CD opens with the very beautiful
"Prelude: First Snow" from popular label member
Michael Gettel. It is an unusually restrained
piece from Michael- successfully capturing the
softness of early snowfall. The notes twinkle
like stars. Track 2 is an offering from the
extremely popular David Lanz. "Summer's Child"
is taken from his much acclaimed "Cristofori's
Dream" album. It borders on soft jazz in parts,
but is a pretty piece nevertheless. I think an
English Horn is used in parts. Spencer Brewer's
"Portraits" from the album of the same name, has
a catchy melody, and is very easy-going- perfect
for late-night listening. A personal favourite,
"Song for Eia" by Michael Jones is the first
CD's fourth track. At 8 minutes and 49 seconds,
this is some five minutes shorter than its
original incarnation. A pity that Narada decided
to edit this piece, as one cannot help but feel
the Canadian's pianist's full story has not been
told fully here. The track itself is tremendous
(see the Sunscapes CD Review for a detailed
analysis and history of this particular track).
Wayne Gratz tracks are normally very easy to
listen to, and this sixth track is no exception.
"A Gift From the Sea"-from the album of the same
name- is very beautiful and relaxing in equal
measure. Another favourite! It also features
Michael Gettel can do no wrong in my
book, and he makes his second appearance
in the album's sixth track, with "Gentle
Earth and Sky". As soothing as the title
suggests, this is one to lie back, close
your eyes and slowly drift away to. "Heartsounds",
from the album of the same name, is an
excellent and joyful piece of music by
David Lanz. It has the "feel-good"
factor written all over it. Track 8,
"For You", by Russian pianist Kostia
(from the album 10 Pebbles), is another
piece that is incredibly relaxing.
Kostia's work has a classical feel to
it, and one cannot help but admire his
penultimate track, "The Teacher", by
Brian Mann, is taken from an earlier
compilation, also reviewed on these
pages- "Piano Solos". Very popular on
its original release in 1992, this track
slowly builds up until the teacher
finally snaps and blows his or her top!
Very melodic, and the "explosion" of
keys is a real surprise! Pity the poor
child!!! The suitably titled "Farewell",
another offering from Kostia, closes the
first CD, and is yet another highlight
on a CD brimming with magical tracks.
Quiet and reflective- almost mournful at
its opening, the piece becomes more
positive and "happier" as it develops. A
lovely way to close the CD.
On the CD's second disc, Michael Jones opens up
proceedings with the very lovely "Mexican
Memories". I read somewhere that Michael had
never actually been to Mexico, but the
inspiration came from what he envisaged the
country to actually be like. This piece follows
Michael's tried and tested formula of twinkling
solo-piano, guaranteed to leave the listener
relaxed and rejuvenated. Another piece I enjoy
is the third track, "Courage of the Wind" by
David Lanz. David is extremely popular in the
United States, and his piano solos are very easy
to listen to. Undemanding and perfect chill-out
music. The excellent run continues with the next
track, "Blue Ridge, Part 2". This is not
solo-piano, and features a number of different
instruments, principally guitar with the piano.
But what a lovely melody from Wayne Gratz, and
it is easy to see why this is regarded as one of
Wayne's best pieces. "The Lost Roundup" (Track
6) by Richard Souther, has grown on me over
time. The synth washes, which I disliked at
first, probably do add that extra little
something to this very short track.
If there was any doubt about the popularity of
Michael Jones, it must be dispelled with the
third appearance from the Canadian pianist on
this compilation CD. Here the offering is "Aspen
Summer" from the highly regarded "After the
Rain" album. The combination of piano and David
Darling's cello works beautifully.
With twenty-two tracks, totaling almost two
hours' worth of piano music, this double CD
really does represent excellent value for money.
Very highly recommended!