Alexis Ffrench: ‘Truth’

Featured publications are selected for review by ANDREW EALES

Alexis Ffrench’s star has continued to rise since my review of Hal Leonard’s Alexis Ffrench: The Sheet Music Collection a couple of years ago.

Last year Ffrench became Composer in Residence with Scala Radio; readers will be still more interested in the recent announcement of his appointment as the new Artistic Director of ABRSM, the music examination board, a role of which he has enthusiastically said,

On the creative front, Ffrench recently released his latest album on Sony. Truth introduces thirteen brand new tracks, including collaborations with singer Leona Lewis, guitarist Jin Oki, and with the lush backing of a 70-piece orchestra.

According to the artist,

Hal Leonard have just published the official sheet music folio of all the tracks from the album in solo piano transcriptions, the subject of this review…

“to better live my own truth”…

Alexis Ffrench was born in Surrey, where he grew up in a music-loving household. He began playing the piano aged four, and by the age of seven was head organist at his local church. He was subsequently educated at the Purcell School and Royal Academy of Music in London, where he is now a Trustee.

Ffrench has enjoyed huge popular success; as his website says:

Ffrench isn’t afraid of fusing his music with weighty issues. For years, he has sought to highlight mental health issues, discuss diversity, and challenge the classical establishment to be more inclusive. The proceeds from his 2020 single Walk With Us were donated to the Black Lives Matter movement.

The publicity for the new album Truth announces it as his most political to date, but I have yet to spot an edgy subtext; the only song with lyrics is One Look, Ffrench’s warmly soulful love song collaboration with Leona Lewis:

The track titles for the album as a whole are as follows:

  • Canyons
  • One Look (ft. Leona Lewis)
  • Songbird
  • Hope, Ascending
  • Guiding Light
  • Viva Viva Amor (ft. Jin Oki)
  • Still Life
  • Golden
  • Colours
  • Papillon
  • One Look (reprise)
  • Evermore
  • Broken Sunsets

Listening to the album, I am struck by the optimism of the music, particularly given the dark circumstances in which it was composed.

Truth is an uplifting listen, made up of uniformly appealing tracks which I would characterise as feel-good pop piano ballads. These tracks have a slick hue that reminds me of Richard Clayderman and George Winston more than, say, Ludovico Einaudi.

In any case, Truth is available to stream on Apple Music, YouTube and other major platforms, so have a listen and see what you think.

The Official Sheet Music Folio

If the music of Alexis Ffrench has a high gloss sheen, so too does the beautifully produced sheet music collection from Hal Leonard.

In his introduction to the book, the artist tells us,

Reproducing the album cover on it’s front, the publication has 88 pages printed on white paper, staple bound. The notation throughout is well-spaced and clearly presented in solo piano format. One Look appears in PVG piano/vocal/guitar format with guitar tab printed above the vocal line and lyrics.

Once again it is worth noting that Ffrench’s pieces certainly aren’t easy to play, with figurations which combine classical technique with the flowing rhythms of the pop piano style, all transcribed here with superb accuracy. I would recommend this for fans of the music who are advanced players at around UK Grade 7-8 level. Note also that no fingering suggestions are offered.

For those with the enthusiasm and ability to play this music, Hal Leonard have certainly produced a must-have and handsomely presented volume.

As the artist concludes,

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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.