Simon Reich’s Pianoworks

Sunday Sounds

It’s time to relaunch this regular feature on Pianodao, and what better way to do it than to share the recent piano improvisations of my good friend Simon Reich, an award-winning composer who will be known to regular readers for his frequent guest posts on Pianodao, and in particular for their wonderfully encouraging tone.

It’s a reflection on this consummate musician’s gift that his solo improvisations are every bit as warm and encouraging as his words. I’ve had a listen to the latest tracks he has shared on SoundCloud, and compiled this playlist of a few favourites.

Many of these pieces showcase Simon’s studio nous, with gorgeous electronic treatments and delay effects beautifully enhancing his music. Enjoy!

Follow: Simon Reich on SoundCloud


Sunday Sounds shines a regular spotlight on great music, featuring YouTube and audio tracks of pianists past and present, classical and jazz, as well as great new music discoveries.

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I got a nice new chair today

Sunday Sounds

This week has been a bit of a struggle, with rather a lot on my plate. On the plus side, I bought a new office chair to replace my broken one. And it’s good to celebrate small victories!

I sat down at the piano late yesterday evening and a little improvisation emerged from my fingers.

At the encouragement of my family I hit the record button, and here’s my second attempt at playing around with this simple tune. I hope you enjoy it.

Follow: Andrew Eales on SoundCloud

Sunday Sounds shines a regular spotlight on great music, featuring YouTube and audio tracks of pianists past and present, classical and jazz, as well as great new music discoveries.

“Shifting” Michael McDonald

Sunday Sounds

Michael McDonald grew up in North Carolina, USA, but has for the last 15 years lived in Helsinki, Finland, where he is the music teacher in an english-language school.

A gifted pianist, Michael enjoys exploring the sound-world of different and unusual pianos, which has drawn him to many of the more recent sample libraries from Native Instruments such as ‘The Maverick’, and ‘Una Corda’ (a prepared piano about which I will be writing more here soon!), as well as Spitfire Audio’s “Gwilym Simcock Felt Piano”, which is heard in this beautiful piece ‘Shifting’.

Michael says of this track:

“I work on music in my 6-year-old daughter’s room. My speakers are surrounded by a huge pile of stuffed animals. My daughter often asks me to ‘play her to sleep’ at night, so I work on these quiet piano pieces, mostly improvising around some simple idea, and later realize she’s fallen asleep.
I love the work of Nils Frahm and Ólafur Arnalds and hope to include some small facet of their work in my own.”

Michael’s SoundCloud page contains a lot more tracks, many of them evocative experiments with the sounds of the latest new instruments he has acquired, and it is well worth exploring his work there:

Follow: Michael McDonald on SoundCloud

Sunday Sounds shines a regular spotlight on great music, featuring YouTube and audio tracks of pianists past and present, classical and jazz, as well as great new music discoveries.

“Inside Life” – Bruno Sanfilippo

Sunday Sounds

An artist I came to know on SoundCloud a few years ago, I immediately fell in love with Bruno’s music when I first heard it. It’s a winning combination of minimal piano music with classical sensitivities and the electronics of Brian Eno’s ambient work.

Bruno’s site describes himself thus:

“Bruno Sanfilippo is a classically trained musician and composer. His focus alternates between the exploration of minimalist piano concepts and electroacoustic music. He is obsessed with the search for new and unique qualities in music – the amazing, the magical and the deep. In dreams, there’s no imagined thing that’s too absurd, too strange, and Bruno Sanfilippo’s music comes from that inexhaustible and shameless source.”

“Inside Life” is a 7 track CD release that came out a while ago. It offers a warm welcome to Bruno’s sound world, and I hope you will feel yourself immersed as I do when listening to these beautiful tracks.

Credits:
Cello: Julián Kancepolski
Analog Mastered by Ian Hawgood · Tokio
Artwork & layout by Andy Ruggia · Buenos Aires

Follow: Bruno Sanfilippo on SoundCloud

Sunday Sounds shines a regular spotlight on great music, featuring YouTube and audio tracks of pianists past and present, classical and jazz, as well as great new music discoveries.

“Solo” – Oliver Sadie

Sunday Sounds

Oliver Sadie was one of the first musicians whose piano recordings I discovered when I joined SoundCloud a few years ago, and with whom I connected in those earlier, more “community” oriented days on the platform.

One aspect of Oliver’s musical development which has inspired many is his ability to provide a complete “package” – not simply great music, but also well played, beautifully recorded and packaged. These reveal the skills and dedication of a true professional, and it has been a pleasure to see over the years how his subsequent career as an upcoming award-winning media composer has developed.

An irony is that although Oliver has worked so hard to develop his career, his music comes easily and naturally.

He is one of the most talented free improvisers I know of outside of jazz, effortlessly playing, recording and performing fully-formed piano works with the spontaneity that comes from genuine talent, and with an appeal that has naturally attracted a huge following.

“Solo” is a track in which Oliver returns to this simple ethos.

Follow: Oliver Sadie on SoundCloud

Sunday Sounds shines a regular spotlight on great music, featuring YouTube and audio tracks of pianists past and present, classical and jazz, as well as great new music discoveries.

Fivos Valachis: “My Musical Diary”

Sunday Sounds

This week, I am sharing a compilation of some of my favourite pieces by Greek pianist and composer, Fivos Valachis, whom I have had the pleasure of knowing online for a few years now. He is a musician for whom I have the utmost respect.

Fivos also has an interesting “piano journey” story to tell, which I will let him share in his own words while you enjoy listening to his music:

“Born in Athens (Greece) in 1959, crossroad of Western and Eastern culture, I learnt as a child to appreciate both classical and popular culture.

In 1967, I fell in love with the piano, beginning the study of the instrument. My adolescent years were years of continuous curiosity and musical experimentation, moving from folk music to hard rock, from pop / rock to classical music. These were also the years that I composed my first “rudimentary” pieces and songs. And I learnt to also play the guitar, accordion, bouzouki and baglama.

In 1977, after finishing High School, I concluded my studies in classical piano at the Conservatory of Athens and then moved to Turin, Italy for graduate studies in Computer Science. As I continued my studies I also played as a pianist in piano-bar, taught piano and harmony, and worked as a private freelance musician. 1978, I was the winner of second prize of UNESCO’s International Competition for original music for children. 1981, parallel to the university, I graduated in jazz technique and improvisation with teacher Giorgio Gaslini.

For the next 20 years, for personal reasons, I largely retired into the background, but composed Greek and Italian songs and music for advertising under a pseudonym. At the same time I continued to compose neo-classical piano music, and gave small private concerts for up to 50 people.

In May 2013 I woke up and decided to share my musical diary not only with friends and family, but through the internet with everyone using SoundCloud   and streaming concerts on YouTube. The effect of this decision on my life was unimaginable: new contacts with great musicians, 21 charity concerts in one year in Italy, and many new friends around the world.”

Fivos is indeed a musician who has taken the internet with both hands and found a way to share his wonderful music far and wide. In the process he has gained an enthusiastic and large international audience.

Follow: Fivos Valachis on SoundCloud

Sunday Sounds shines a regular spotlight on great music, featuring YouTube and audio tracks of pianists past and present, classical and jazz, as well as great new music discoveries.

Andrej Zatkalík: “Ancient Memories”

Sunday Sounds

Andrej Zatkalík is a musician based in Bratislava, Slovakia, who regularly shares his piano improvisations on SoundCloud, and they are simply too good to miss!

An improvisation of two halves, reflective and passionate by turns, Ancient Memories is a typically astonishing work which reveals Andrej’s technical prowess and assimilation of classical piano styles.

Writing about his musical process, Andrej says:

“My first musical steps began in childhood at the age of 8, when I started playing the piano. I learnt at the local musical school for the next seven years. From that time on, my greatest passion has been piano improvising. It’s like an open-ended adventure to put your fingers on the piano keys and let your soul speak with the universal language of music!

I often play around with simple musical motifs, adding changes and variations to them. That way I create my improvisations.

Sometimes I record myself playing, and by listening back I can find some interesting melodies or chord progressions, which I don’t remember playing. My music is mostly unplanned, and the majority of my piano pieces I have created during one evening, which is why I often use the word “evening“ or “night“ in title name.”

Follow: Andrej Zatkalík on SoundCloud

Sunday Sounds shines a regular spotlight on great music, featuring YouTube and audio tracks of pianists past and present, classical and jazz, as well as great new music discoveries.

“January”

Sunday Sounds

This aptly named piece by Simeon Walker is a delight of restraint and warmth. Perfect for the season – and I hope you love this as much as I do!

Simeon explains:

“Last year, on January 2nd, I sat down to play and began to think through my thoughts about the new year ahead.

For me, this song is about contrasts. The space between anticipation and tentativeness about all that will happen. Musically, I tried to capture this through full, warm, chord-based movement, whilst trying to retain a coldness and hesitance in the sound, that could also reflect the time of year.

I tried to leave as much space as possible in this piece to enable the listener to be aware of their own feelings about the new year. Contrast and space.”

Follow: Simeon Walker on SoundCloud


Sunday Sounds shines a regular spotlight on great music, featuring YouTube and audio tracks of pianists past and present, classical and jazz, as well as great new music discoveries.

“Turmoil Within”

Sunday Sounds

The Awakened Soul, aka Apo Malo, has been producing and sharing fine piano improvisations on SoundCloud for several years, and was one of the first friends I made when I joined the site a few years ago. His music has a depth and spirituality which I believe readers here will appreciate.

Regarding this piece, Apo writes:

“Amidst the confusion of the times, the conflicts of conscience, and the turmoil of daily living, an abiding faith becomes an anchor to our lives.”
– Thomas S. Monson

This piece came to me when I eventually calmed the inner conflicts within my soul. Enjoy this improvisation!

A wonderful sentiment – and brilliantly conveyed in the music!

Follow: The Awakened Soul on SoundCloud


Sunday Sounds shines a regular spotlight on great music, featuring YouTube and audio tracks of pianists past and present, classical and jazz, as well as great new music discoveries.

Tammy Howarth: “Aftermath”

Sunday Sounds

Tammy Howarth composed this while a second year student at the Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts.

I first heard Tammy’s original music posted on SoundCloud before she had finished schooling in Pembrokeshire, and was immediately struck by her originality and talent.

“Aftermath” is a deeply reflective piece, its engaging melody underpinned by subtle arrangement and production. Unlike many pieces in a so-called “post-minimal” style, the arrangement never becomes too much, drowning out the core piano content … it’s this musical sensitivity, restraint and sophistication that I find particularly striking and appealing.

I hope you enjoy this too!

Follow: Tammy Howarth on SoundCloud


Sunday Sounds shines a regular spotlight on great music, featuring YouTube and audio tracks of pianists past and present, classical and jazz, as well as great new music discoveries.