Garreth Brooke is a talented English composer currently living and working in Germany. In addition to sharing his inspiring story here, he has previously talked to me about his excellent Upright Editions initiative in an interview here.
Garreth has been publishing recordings of his music on Soundcloud, Bandcamp and elsewhere for several years, gaining an appreciative audience drawn to the new-classical style and emotive qualities of his writing and playing.
In this review, it’s my pleasure to review the most recent publication of Garreth’s music, appearing under his alias Garreth Broke: Healing and published by Editions Musica Ferrum.
Perhaps Broke’s most impressive work to date, Healing is a collaboration with his partner, visual artist Anna Salzmann.
The sturdy Editions Musica Ferrum publication, printed on high quality white paper, contains 12 solo pieces. Each is accompanied by a full-page colour artwork, and we are told that between them these add up to a a cycle that broaches themes of suffering, pain, healing and release.
To seek to heal is to be human. Everyone suffers grief, loss, and fear. Everyone feels pain. Although this project came from us, it is not about us. The strength of any person comes from their willingness to confront the darkest moments, to accept reality for what it is and to choose to move forward. We live in a world that increasingly shies away from the difficult, in which we focus blindly on the positive and hide in echo chambers speaking only to those who share the same opinion. Our society needs to heal. We hope we’ve created a space where that healing can take place”.
The pieces would suit an early advanced player. The notation is very well spaced, and includes full pedalling indications, but not fingering.
Here is Broke’s recording of the album:
There is much beauty, contrast and dynamism in this music, from the calm opening of Introduction, evolving through darker territory before the resignation of Undercurrent (my personal favourite of the collection) and ecstatic concluding Cave, Mind, Clear.
Edition Musica Ferrum’s presentation is gorgeous even by this publisher’s high standards. The artworks are vividly reproduced, and are certainly an equal partner to the accompanying music.
If the contrast between the high-concept abstract modernism of Salzmann’s artworks and the attractive ambience and approachability of Broke’s music is an intriguing one, it merits reflective attention; it seems to me that there is a compelling, organic unity between the two, which I personally find wholly persuasive.
But I don’t think I will be the only person who loves this set; Broke and Salzmann’s Healing could, with the right exposure, prove immensely popular.
Garreth Brooke’s music enters a crowded field of solo piano music written in an emotive post-minimal style. But his writing is, in my view at least, a cut above that of many of his peers.
I hope that this review has whet your appetite to explore these often-beautiful and evocative compositions for yourself, and that you will discover within them the musical personality of a sensitive and profound artist.
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