Piano-Heaven Award Winner:

Jeff Herge

Jeff Herge

Herge Productions






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It is heartening to know that tucked away out there in the vast piano music labyrinth are CDs of high calibre such as this one that somehow have bypassed me over the years. As the old saying goes, "better late than never", and it has been with a sense of real joy that I have been listening to this CD on a regular basis over the last few weeks.

Curiously titled (or arguably not titled at all), Jeff Herge's "Jeff Herge" has certainly made an impression on this listener. Released in 1992, this thirteen track CD maintains a consistently high standard throughout and is refreshing in its originality and vitality. It would appear that Jeff has released nothing since- all the more reason then to lap up this musical feast- a joy to the palette.

The CD opens with "Jeffrey's theme"- and from the title, I am assuming this is either his trademark piece or possibly his first composition. Either way, it is a beauty. The track typifies the composer's ear for melody. Whilst by no means one of the more energetic pieces, it serves well to illustrate that this is music that is far more than just background fluff. Jeff's compositions are not for drifting to sleep to; rather I find myself sitting up and listening intently to the development of each track.

The opening bars to "Patricia Ann" introduce the listener to a few notes recurring on a number of occasions throughout the CD. I have no idea as to the identity of Patricia Ann, but the composition is gentle, relaxing and very beautiful. It has often occurred to me that having a piece on a CD named after oneself must be the ultimate gift for the recipient; the lucky lady must be honoured. Listening to this track provides further evidence of the talent that this composer undoubtedly possesses.

"Autumn Snow" is the CD's third track. This is soft, welcome snowfall. A more beautiful tune you would be hard-pressed to hear. After the lovely opening, comes a gorgeous section at 1:30, which is both playful and graceful. This is no intense snow-storm- this is a delicate dusting which brings joy to the people around. Equally impressive is the delightful ending to the piece- perhaps the snow has finished creating its visually beautiful landscape, and it is us, the listeners, that benefit through the audio snapshot of the completed image.

If track three could be described as ‘beautiful’, track four surpasses it and then some. I have always had a fascination for rain, and how the piano seems to be the perfect instrument to capture the sound of the ensuing raindrops. I have literally dozens of pieces which represent rain in its different stages and forms. Jeff Herge's piece is up there with the very best. The notes previously referred to in track two resurface and are developed into the most exquisite of melodies. I never tire of this track. Rather like the powdery snow in the previous track, this is no rain-storm. If rain can be welcome and beautiful, it is to be found within this piece. This is another relatively short-piece, fairly typical of the composer. Most tracks are between two and three minutes long, and are only as long as the piece needs to be. An outstanding track.

A definite change of mood is heard in track five. As the title would suggest, "Stormy Days" contrasts sharply with earlier pieces. The discord in the opening section- both intimidating and exciting- represents the gathering threat, the rumbling thunder and the imminent rain. This is no ordinary storm! Jeff Herge shows masterful control of the piano and he uses the instrument to tremendous effect. The rain is lashing the Earth. With lots of imagery conjured up from the energetic playing, this would be a perfect piece for dance groups wanting to represent a storm. Gradually, the thunder quietens; the rain eases. The storm is passing. What a piece of music!

"Unknown Theme" is the curiously titled sixth track of the CD. At just over two minutes in duration, this is one of the shorter pieces. It has quite a dramatic fan-fare-style opening, and then settles into a slightly more sedate form as the piece progresses, before reaching a dramatic climax. As with every piece, the track captivates the listener from beginning to end.

"Skipping Stones" is the CD's seventh track. Its up-tempo opening suggests to me the rushing of water. Jeff Herge clearly has a love of water, and his enthusiasm for the subject is obviously inspirational to him. Another very short track, this is again great fun for both the listener, and, I rather suspect, the composer as well.

My favourite group of notes return again in the next track. "Impending Love" slows things right down, and is one of the album's more reflective and gentler pieces. It is also very melodic, and it is a source of fascination to me that Jeff Herge manages to seamlessly incorporate those notes again- once more to great effect.

"Her Eyes" is another quiet piece. I get the feeling that in some ways this is an autobiographical album, capturing key moments in the composer's life. The CD's ninth track is stunningly beautiful. The tempo is again slowed right down. There are no other distractions here- the eyes are definitely the focus of attention. This is a tremendous track.

With Jeff Herge, the quality music just keeps coming and coming, amply illustrated by track 10, entitled "Expressed Reflections". As the title would suggest, the opening is certainly contemplative. At around 1.15, the tempo changes and the music becomes more upbeat. What never changes, however, is the composer's gift to consistently deliver appealing melody time and time again.

Track eleven, "Winter's Reign" is not as dramatic as one might expect from the title. However, it is apparent that winter is seizing its grip. Another winning melody, another winning piece of music.

The penultimate track is entitled, "Times to Remember", and is a reflective piece. Open the wine, sit back, relax and enjoy!

The final track is a medley of two of the earlier tracks, "Stormy Days" and "Raindrops". Curiously, the storm comes before the raindrops; perhaps the thunder peters out leaving the refreshing and rejuvenating rain behind. Regardless, it is most welcome as the little theme that emerges again is one of the most appealing melodies I have ever heard.

At a shade under forty minutes, Jeff Herge delivers a highly memorable CD which blows away the listener with its brilliance and sheer energy. The only disappointment here is that the composer has not released anything since 1992. Hopefully, this will change at some point in the not-too-distant future. I read at the composer's web-site that he is a great fan of some of my all-time favourite pianists, George Winston, David Lanz et al, and whilst it must be remembered that this composer has his own "voice", I can't help but feel that if the great composers themselves listened to their "apprentice's" music, the resulting respect would be mutual. And that is the greatest compliment I can pay to this immensely talented musician. This is an extremely impressive CD (currently available from CD Baby for the ridiculously cheap price of $10), and I give it my highest recommendation. Bravo!







JEFF HERGE: Jeff Herge

Jeff Herge: Piano Solos

Jeff Herge




Jeff Herge




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