Piano-Heaven Award Winner:

Piano Solos

Various Artists

Narada Lotus

1992

 

 

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Mainly Piano

 

 

 

 

There was once a time when the name Narada was synonymous with the finest pianists. They boasted a roster that even the original New Age Label, Windham Hill, could not match. Pianists of the highest order, including Michael Jones, Michael Gettel, Spencer Brewer, Kostia and David Lanz regularly turned out classic CDs which are still listened to around the world to this day. 

In 1992, Narada released a CD which, put quite simply, would not be released today. There was a risk attached to this CD, because as well as featuring established giants of the label, it also showcased newcomers in equal measure. Narada do not release CDs anymore, and very few labels would take such a gamble in the current climate.

What makes this CD extra special, is that it features a dozen original compositions, many of which more than justify the cost of the CD. It opens with a lovely little number by old-timer, Spencer Brewer. "First Rain" successfully captures the steady rainfall, one moment gentle and predictable, the next swirling and heavier. "First Rain" is definitely Summer Rain, presumably at dawn. Spencer started playing at the age of eight, and was composing his own music by ten. Since then, he has owned an incredible 400 pianos. He sees it as the perfect instrument as... "it openly receives my feelings and emotions without passing judgment, and it responds with understanding, compassion and tenderness. I feel blessed to have had such a wonderful friend throughout my life."

The next track is by Michael Gettel, and contains his trademark sound. Rhythmic and with his normal flurry of keys, this piece "Gentle Earth and Sky" does not disappoint.  Kostia's first offering, "Girl From Barcelona" is gentle and soothing as well as melodic. It develops into a high-tempo piece, before settling down to its original form.

Another highlight is to be found with track 5- "So Close". This is my favourite cut on the CD. It is extremely melodic and accessible. Very positive and uplifting, this is a much-loved piece in the New Age piano world. Kostia returns for his second offering, "Flowers on the Water"- a more intense track, classically influenced. The ever reliable Michael Jones also makes his second appearance on Track 8 of this CD, with "Aspen Summer". A very tender opening suggesting dawn of a Summer's day, gradually develops into daytime and the wildlife that comes with it. One final favourite, is the CD's last track, the rather appropriate "The Teacher" by Brian Mann. A delightful melody happily plays, until the listener is caught out by a sudden flurry of notes at high volume- to me, this is the teacher losing his or her patience with a child who has just tried their luck once too often! A great way to end this very impressive CD.

The linear notes are extensive, with autobiographical notes on each pianist featured. The recording quality is excellent.

 

I really enjoyed listening to this CD, and recommend it as a wonderful introduction to the world of New Age Piano, and the undisputed place Narada has had in its history. 

S.C.

 

 

 

 

 

Piano Solos:

Various Artists

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Narada Records