Piano-Heaven Award Winner:

Sunscapes

Michael Jones

Narada 

1986

www.pianoscapes.com

 

  

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"Sunscapes" is Michael Jones's fourth album for Narada. Unlike the following two outstanding albums that he went on to make ("Amber" and "After the Rain"), this album features solo-piano. It is a lovely album, and although now "Out of Print" for some reason, it is still available directly from Michael himself at the web address to be found at the bottom of this page.

My all-time favourite track graces this CD and it is a beautiful way to open the listening experience. "Song for Eia" was originally called Nightwind. An earlier incarnation of this track appeared in the 2002 Pianoscapes Deluxe version. Listening to the "draft" version, it is clear that Michael had a jewel on his hands- but the finished product turned out to be a gem.

Michael recalls watching the lake outside his home near Toronto as an approaching storm began to take hold. The piano playing on this piece is nothing short of stunning. It is a lengthy track at around ten minutes. Michael's signature sound is present here- the gradual build-up and then the plethora of notes, including the immensely satisfying trademark low note, which is played with some vigour (far more so than in the previous incarnation)- and the piece is all the better for it. My favourite part is the end, which is very upbeat with an extremely catchy melody. It truly is a wonderful track. Michael later renamed the piece in memory of a brave friend who lost her life in unfortunate circumstances. I am sure Eia is smiling in heaven every time she hears this track.

Michael explains how this song developed: "The song came quickly. The ostinato movement of the left hand swelled up and down, subtly capturing the steady ebb and flow of the waves. The theme in the right hand reflected the stillness of the evening. As the melody developed, a warm breeze came through the screen porch rustling the leaves in the maple trees outside. The night had its own song."

He goes on to explain: "The song continued to fill out as I played. Rain started to patter on the roof and I answered with slow, cascading arpeggios. The wind sang with the rain and I began to explore the final sections of the piece.... {my favourite part!).... As the thunder rumbled clear across the lake, the tension in the air eased, and the music gained a full and rhythmic quality." 

"Sun Showers" is a very likeable track and features a pretty and busy melody. Again, I am sure this composition was inspired by the ensuing beauty of gentle showers interspersed with sunshine. Great technique once more is to be found here.

"Touch the Wind" is another favourite. After 58 seconds, a delightful melody sets in which is repeated towards the end of the track. In-between, are plenty of soaring notes which charm from start to finish. I love the climaxes of Michael's pieces. They always feature some incredible piano playing and are extremely busy and chaotic, but somehow organised at the same time.

"Echoes" is a six minute piece, which offers another appealing melody, and the CD rounds off nicely with Dreams of a Child.

 

"Sunscapes" is a lovely CD, and well worth a listen. Michael does not rush his pieces. They are works of art, and the careful listener will be rewarded with an unforgettable experience. For relaxation and meditation purposes, this CD is perfect. Very highly recommended!

S.C.

 

 

 

 

 

Sunscapes

Michael Jones

 

 

 

 

 

Michael Jones