Pam Wedgwood: Piano Meditations

Featured publications are selected for review by ANDREW EALES

Following on from her previous collections of original pieces inspired by works of art Piano Gallery (reviewed here) and Piano Seascapes (reviewed here), Piano Meditations is the latest from best-selling composer Pam Wedgwood, brought to us as ever by publishers Faber Music.

Here we have 12 brand new compositions which are, according to their composer, “inspired by contemplative works of art, and once again the publication includes a gorgeous full colour pull-out poster featuring images of all the paintings which served as Pam’s muse.

Intermediate players who enjoyed the previous collections, along with Wedgwood’s many fans, will undoubtedly already be rushing to their music supplier for a copy; for the benefit of those wanting more information, let’s take a quick look…

Contemplating Art

With the ongoing popularity of mindfulness practice, and the ubiquitous ambient piano music of Einaudi et al a permanent fixture of the airwaves, I was initially expecting Wedgwood to be departing from her usual mix of classical and popular music styles here. And indeed, the opening piece At Sunset seems intent on channelling Einaudi’s post-minimal piano figurations, at least at the start.

However, longterm enthusiasts of Wedgwood will soon relax in the knowledge that Piano Meditations comes complete with the composer’s trademark light touch, marrying easy-going melody with lightly jazzy harmony, classical aesthetic with contemporary groove.

Returning for the third time to her neat concept of writing pieces to match the paintings that she clearly enjoys, Wedgwood writes in her short Introduction:

“I have always thought that when art and music are combined in a special way, they can bring new meaning into our lives. The pieces in this collection are all inspired by works of art on themes of mindfulness, mediation and reflection. I have tried to portray my own interpretation of the artworks with strong melody lines and changing moods, and I hope the art will stimulate and encourage you to interpret each piece in your own special way. Why not try to create your own music inspired by the artworks, too. Be at peace and enjoy!”

The 12 pieces, and their respective inspirations (note that not all artists are known/credited), are:

  • At Sunset (Mortlake Terrace, William Turner)
  • As Morning Awakes (Chinese Landscape)
  • The Journey (Abstract Landscape)
  • Rise Up (Parliament in London, Claude Monet)
  • Reflections (Solitude, Nick Pike)
  • Rocken End (Rocken End, Linda Beale)
  • Waiting (Boats at Low Tide, Charles Knights)
  • Changing Moods (Sky Blue, Wassily Kandinsky)
  • Chant (Ascension)
  • Just a Perfect Day (Meadow, Alfred Sisley)
  • Looking on the Bright Side (Abstracts, the Art)
  • Danse espagnole (Spanish Dancer, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec)

While the mood throughout these pieces remains delightfully relaxed, none of the music here becomes moribund in its introspection; the prevailing energy throughout is positive, fuelled with hope and optimism. Even the rather dark D minor opening of Waiting ultimately gives way to a sunny E flat major conclusion, signalling perhaps that in Wedgwood’s world the wait is worth it!

As with the previous two books, the music here would eminently suit players at the upper end of intermediate, around UK Grade 5 level.

The Publication

Piano Meditations maintains the same excellent design of its two predecessors, with a lovely cover housing a 32-page book printed on white paper.

Each piece is once again prefaced with a few personal words by the composer, as well as a famous quotation that further underlines the reflective goals of the publication.

The music is printed neatly, and well spaced. Minimal but sufficient fingering is included to help the player.

Nestled in the middle, the pull-out poster of all the artworks remains a novel and hugely welcome addition; as before, matching the pictures and music enhances both, and is a wonderful spark for the musician’s imagination.

Closing Thoughts

As with Piano Gallery and Piano Seascapes before, I found playing through this new collection hugely enjoyable…

Wedgwood retains her famous knack for turning a good tune and spinning delicious harmonic twists; even though there are moments where she flirts with pastiche, all these pieces are delivered with the best taste, and I didn’t find any weak moments.

Faber Music have once again produced a lovely publication that befits Wedgwood’s artistic vision, and in short, Piano Meditations is quite simply a joy!

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Published by

Andrew Eales

Andrew Eales is a widely respected piano educator, writer and composer based in Milton Keynes UK. His book HOW TO PRACTISE MUSIC is published by Hal Leonard.