in my recent review of Texan composer Mona Rejino’s excellent Reflections and Relaxations (which you can read here), I both mentioned and praised her Impressions of New York, another fairly recent publication in Hal Leonard’s ‘Composer Showcase’ series.
In this review I am returning to that 2021 title to tell you more about it, having intended on reviewing it here and introducing it to the Pianodao Music Library for some time.
Subtitled A Jazz Sonatina, the three movement work was originally commissioned as a trio for viola, cello and piano, and by the Music Teachers National Association in the US for their 2019 National Conference.
Encouraged by its reception, her editor and husband, Rejino subsequently arranged Impressions of New York as the solo piano Jazz Sonatina reviewed here…
A Jazz Sonatina
Introducing the work, the composer tell us,
“Creating interesting melodies, rich harmonies, and adding a touch of jazz has been my goal in writing this composition. Impressions of New York explores the sights and sounds one might encounter when visiting this vibrant city.”
Those who have already followed my recommendation and picked up a copy of Reflections and Relaxations will know that Rejino is wonderfully adept at capturing the American jazz idiom within pieces that have a strong pedagogic foundation and memorable musical content. The same applies here.
Following a neo-classical form, the Sonatina has the following three movements, each accompanied by an evocative title:
I. Strolling the Upper West Side
II. Midnight in Brooklyn
III. Grand Central Station
As a whole I would suggest that the three movements would suit an early advanced player, around UK Grade 6-7, the finale certainly presenting the most challenge. The movements combine to make an appealing recital work that audiences are sure to enjoy right away.
Rejino has made her own recording of Impressions of New York, and it is through this that one of my adult students first encountered the piece, and subsequently introduced me to it. Hearing the composer’s performance is of course the best way to encounter the piece for yourself, so here it is:
In this infectious performance, the lush harmonies of the opening movement, soulful sway of the second, and energetic dynamism of the finale seem to me to perfectly complement each other, combining to make a complete statement that has real substance.
Impressions of New York is satisfying at the piano, too, once again confirming Rejino’s educative understanding and musical affinity with the instrument. Whether learning an individual movement as a standalone miniature or preparing a performance of the whole Sonatina, this is undoubtedly rewarding music for players to get to grips with.
The publication is handsomely presented, the attractive cover leading to 16 white pages that kick off with an illuminating Preface by the composer. The scores appear in a generously sized music font, the three movements afforded 4, 4 and 5 pages respectively. Clear pedalling instructions and helpful fingering suggestions are included throughout.
Impressions of New York is easy to recommend, and indeed the music simply and effectively recommends itself. Enjoy!
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