There was once
a time not so long ago, that piano compilation
albums from the genre were in plentiful supply.
However, with the golden days of Narada and Windham
Hill behind us, such products have been few and far
between of late. It is not that there are fewer pianists or
releases (far from it- the internet and digital age
have opened up a window of opportunity for
thousands of musicians)- rather, it is the lack of a
central organisation or figure to co-ordinate the
cream of the music and produce a compilation.
forward Alejandro Clavijo, founder and reviewer of
the much-respected 'Reviews New Age' website based
in Spain. A lover of the genre, Alejandro has done
what I have only dreamed of doing- selecting his top
piano tracks from recent years and producing an
album of very high quality.
playlist for this wonderful album, it is not
surprising at all that it has found its way onto
Piano-Heaven. Seventeen artists contribute a track
each (including a new release from Danny Wright),
making for over 73 minutes' worth of essential
listening. The artists themselves
are a mixture of seasoned campaigners who
contributed to the success of the big-name New-Age
record labels of the eighties and nineties (Wayne Gratz, David Lanz, Peter Kater
seamlessly with newer but very successful figures in
the world of contemporary piano music, such as
Michele McClaughlin and Chad Lawson. The end product
is an album which showcases some of the finest music
in the genre.
'Maine Morning' opens the CD. The piece in question
was written many years before, and captures the
amazing start to the day in the New England
countryside. It is a jolly, 'feel-good' affair, and
clearly this part of the world is dear to the
Next up is
Rocky Fretz, whose composition 'Kim's Song' is taken
from his 2012 album, 'The Gathering'. The piece
develops beautifully, with an appealing melody
throughout. I've even been watching Rocky teaching
pianists how to play the piece on You Tube!
Oh how I love
'The Train' by Ralph
Zurmühle from his 2002 album
'Communion'. There is such energy in the piece, and
the listener can almost feel the steam engine coming
through the speakers as it gathers momentum. There
are quieter moments too- perhaps the train is
chugging along past summer fields at a leisurely
pace. This is the sort of piece that fans of Philp Aaberg would very much enjoy.
talented Chad Lawson has a distinct style, and his
contribution 'Set On a Hill' from the album of the
same name is very melodic and appealing to the
listener's ear. It is one of my favourite tracks
from the album that first brought him to my
attention. I love it, and I am confident many
listeners will agree.
'Beyond' is the
next track, and this is composed by the gifted Matthew Mayer, and taken from his album of
the same name. Matthew is a stalwart of the genre,
and the biggest compliment I can pay him is that,
even though the track was written in 2003, it would
almost certainly have been picked up by one of the
big New Age record labels had it been written a
little earlier. It's a lovely piece.
David Nevue has a track entitled, 'A Vision in
White' to serenade the listener as track six. It's
as gentle and beautiful as they come, and is taken
his 2011 album, 'A Delicate Joy'. Perfect for spas
or drifting into your own dream world...
Shine' has a vibrant, buoyant opening- this is a
lovely start to the day. It's a perfect morning, and
this music is as happy and uplifting as the title would
suggest. For the reader's interest, this album was
mastered at Joe's renowned Piano Haven studios. This
track is taken from his 2011 album, 'Into the Wind'.
music keeps coming, and next up is Philip Wesley's
'Lamentations of the Heart' from the album 'Heart to
Hands- A Solo Piano Retrospective 2002-2012'. Philip
has a high reputation in musical circles, and
from the evidence of this track, it is not difficult
to hear why. This is a great selection, and yet another
favourite in an album jam-packed with highlights!
'Luceros' has a
different style from much of the CD. it's catchy and
finger-tapping stuff! I wouldn't really say this was
a relaxing piece, but it definitely has a certain
charm to it. The track comes from the 2004 album, 'Periplos'.
David Lanz will
be a familiar name to anyone who has had a passion
for contemporary piano music over the years. His
original release, 'Cristifori's Dream' on the Narada
label certainly got the ball rolling, and since then
he has sold over five million records across the
world. Recently, David has been tinkering the
ivories with his lovely interpretations of Beatles'
classics. I thoroughly enjoyed listening to 'Sir
George (Liverpool Farewell)' from the 2012 album
'Here Comes the Sun'. I'm also a massive fan of
David's much earlier interpretation of 'Strawberry
And talking of
well-established artists, step forward Wayne Gratz,
another former Narada composer. In more recent
years, Wayne has released several CDs through his
own label. There can be no more poignant composition
on the album than this track, entitled, 'Natalie's
Song', which was written by Wayne at the request of
Natalie's family who had lost their beloved three
year old daughter as a victim of child abuse. It's a
beautiful and touching composition and, as the
linear notes state, "Through this song, Natalie's
memory lives on."
being blown away listening to Michele McLaughlin's
deeply auto-biographical Piano-Heaven award-winning
album 'Out of the Darkness', and the next track,
'Perseverance' is taken from this wonderful album.
Her CD features a series of highs and lows following
the break-up of her marriage, This track typifies
the melodic appeal of the CD, but this compilation
could honestly have featured any track from this
by Joseph Akins is aptly named and is taken from his
2007 album of the same name. The track is very
melodic from start to finish, and is perfect
relaxation music. I love it, and would like to hear
more of Joseph's music as he clearly has a special
'Night Games' has been new to me, and Lisa plays
with a sense of fun. There's a touch of
mischievousness in her piano-playing, and the track
is uplifting and very appealing. Fans of Liz Story
are sure to welcome Lisa's great contribution to
this outstanding album.
There are two
Peter Kater compositions which over the years have
become absolute favourites of mine. Here is one such
track- 'Ascent' from the 2003 album 'Piano'. Fans of
Michael Gettel's solo piano work (particularly 'San
Juan Suite') will adore this piece. Lots of energy
here, and the listener is in for a real treat. My
other favourite composition of Peter's is 'Wind'
from a recently released CD entitled "Wind, Rock,
Sea & Flame Aloha Au Ia 'Oe".
A special treat
for listeners comes in the form of Danny Wright's
contribution as it is written specially for this
album. 'I Always Will' is romantic, uplifting and
very beautiful. Danny has sold over six million
albums, and his most popular composition is perhaps
'Time Windows'. His enormous fan-base will not be
disappointed with his exclusive composition for this
album closes with 'Indicios' by Julio Mazziotti,
from the album 'El Amo de kas Hadas' (2011). I have
to be honest here and say that I had never heard of
this Argentinean composer before, so thank you
Alejandro for introducing me to this very talented
pianist. Far from being a gentle slow-burner to end
the album, this is up-tempo, and a lot of fun to
listen to and no doubt play.
Seventeen fantastic tracks on one album
featuring seventeen stellar artists- all of
whom are leaders in their field. You cannot
really go wrong with an album like this; it
is of extremely high quality from start to
finish. Even the presentation of the album
is top-notch, with a serene cover and a
fascinating linear booklet providing details
of the tracks and the performers.
Congratulations to the artists on this
stunning album. Through Alejandro, the
Narada and Windham Hill legacy lives on. I
give this CD my highest recommendation.