Garreth Broke: Healing, and beyond…

Sheet Music Review

Garreth Brooke is a talented English composer currently living and working in Germany. In addition to contributing guest posts here on Pianodao he has previously shared his inspiring story here, and talked to me about his excellent Upright Editions initiative in an interview here.

In this review, it’s my pleasure to review three recent publications of Garreth’s music, two of which appear under his alias Garreth Broke: Healing and Dance, both published by Editions Musica Ferrum, and thirdly Solo Piano: Selected Pieces, which Garreth has self-published via Amazon.

These publications have all appeared within the last year, but 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.


Healing

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.

According to Broke,

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.

Artwork: Anna Salzmann

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.

Available online from Amazon UK here.

Dance for solo piano

Prior to Healing, Broke’s collection Dance for solo piano was published by Musica Ferrum in 2019. The collection is made up of three short pieces; as with Healing the language is post-minimalist in style, evoking the music of Glass, Nyman, Einaudi et al.

Again, these attractive pieces would suit an early advanced player, perhaps around UK Grade 5-6 level. Have a listen to the composer’s recording and see what you think:


As for the music book, the presentation is closer in keeping with Musica Ferrum’s simple house aesthetic. The card cover includes another eye-catching image from Salzmann; the music inside is printed on cream paper and very clearly engraved. This time, happily, fingering suggestions are also included.

If I have one pernickety criticism, it’s that the pagination requires page turns in all three pieces; if a blank page were shifted within the 12-page publication, this could have been avoided for two of the three.

In any case, if you share the urge to play these lovely and consummately written pieces, this book is a very obvious purchase!

Available online from Amazon UK here.

Solo Piano: Selected Pieces

Lastly, fans of Broke’s superb series of EP’s released over the last four years or so will be delighted to hear that he has self-published a 28-page book including seven of the most popular and evocative tracks:

  1. The Frost Falls as we Sleep
  2. The First
  3. Black Rain
  4. Dita e Verës
  5. Suspire
  6. Hope
  7. Flakes Unwatched and Improvised

Inevitably, the Amazon self-publication doesn’t match the high-end production values of Musica Ferrum, and moving from the other books to this one I was conscious that the notation is presented in a smaller music font.

That said, this did not significantly detract from my enjoyment of these fabulous pieces, many of which I knew and loved already having followed Broke on SoundCloud for several years, and more recently on Apple Music.

Available online from Amazon UK here.

Conclusion

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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Published by

Andrew Eales

Andrew Eales is a pianist, writer and teacher based in Milton Keynes UK, where he runs Keyquest Music - his successful independent music education business, private teaching practice and creative outlet.

One thought on “Garreth Broke: Healing, and beyond…”

  1. Thank you for this review, introducing me to the piano music of Garreth Broke and opportunity to experience the wonderful music and artwork of “Healing”. Wow! Had to sit and listen all the way through. I have ordered the score. Find your reviews so helpful in introducing me to composers I have not come across .. (although difficult to resist buying some of the scores!) My young Polish pupil is loving the Little Stories book you reviewed a while ago , learning “Fountain” a beautiful piece. Thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

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