Australian composer Luke Howard has suggested that his music evokes the material of life: as he puts it, “fragmented relationships, childhood memories, and the passages of time.”
Howard’s dreamy, oscillating music heavily features the piano alongside synth textures and strings, tapping into the now-ubiquitous classical crossover approach while combining pop gestures and misty melodies. Howard also fronts the Luke Howard Trio, whose subtle contemporary jazz albums should not be missed.
Originally published by Lukktone in 2020 and now brought to us in all its loveliness by Faber Music, the collection 28 Transcriptions for Solo Piano is a beautifully presented publication containing reworkings of Howard’s favourite and most requested pieces.
With a launch asking price of £40.00 (or make it £32.00 for Pianodao Tea Room community members), the volume perhaps isn’t an impulse purchase, but personally I think this book is a real treasure, so let me tell you more…
UK-based composer Josh Winiberg’s album Change was released back in 2018, delivering ten tracks of contemporary music in the vein of the hugely popular Ludovico Einaudi, who Winiberg respects and acknowledges as an important influence.
Winiberg’s ten compositions were originally recorded with piano, string quintet, guitars and electronics. It is a measure of the popularity of the recording and the quality of its music that a solo transcription for piano has now been published by Editions Musica Ferrum, the subject of this review.
Hal Leonard’s Peaceful Piano Solos series began life in 2018 with an initial title and matching easy piano version, offering the same 30 popular relaxing piano solos.
Peaceful Christmas Piano Solos (which I have already reviewed here) and Peaceful Piano Solos Soundtracks followed the next year. With Peaceful Classical Piano Solos recently joining the range, this seems like a good moment to catch up with the series as a whole.
First, I will introduce each of the books in turn, including their track lists and particular points to note. For information about the Christmas edition, please refer back to my previous review.
Later in the review, I will then offer some generic observations about the publications and series as a whole…
Markus Schimpp’s recording Yearning for Silence, which was released on the NEOS Music label in 2019, is one of the more interesting albums of original piano music from recent years, melding the post-minimal simplicity of Einaudi with the more advanced (and at times dissonant) harmonic language of the 20th century’s modernist classical composers.
Happily, his full transcriptions of these “33 Approximations of Silence” have recently also been published by the ever-wonderful Editions Musica Ferrum, their sheet music book the subject of this review.
Suitable for early advanced players (the easiest pieces here are around UK Grade 3, but most are closer to Grade 6), I believe this collection will be a superb discovery for many readers, and is certainly my pick of the recent bunch of inventive and evocative miniatures for players at this level.
Faber Music’s growing series of Piano Anthology books are a continuing source of joy, and have been enthusiastically received by several of my regular adult students.
I have reviewed several of the other anthologies here. Spoiler alert: in all cases I have been impressed both with the intelligence and value of the music selections and the quality of the publications themselves.
So it great to be welcoming a new addition to the family with the delivery of The Faber Music Contemporary Piano Anthology, which offers 52 “beautiful neoclassical pieces for solo piano”.
Let’s find out whether it lives up to the high standards set by the series…
“Patrick Hamilton is a flag bearer for the next generation of producer, composer and arranger. A leading figure in classical crossover music, his ambitions include the verticals of artist production alongside film and TV score composition, which together bring his unique skill set to the adult contemporary classical space.”
Judging from Journey to the Unknown, Hamilton’s first solo piano CD, what this lofty statement actually means is that he is the latest to join the ever-growing pantheon of composers creating gentle, soothing piano music in the style popularised by Ludovico Einaudi.
That’s no bad thing, and happily Journey to the Unknown is also now available as a sheet music publication from Hal Leonard. I really like it, so let’s find out what makes it special…
“I love nighttime. I love the mood of night, and feeling all of New York City light up from endless skyscrapers. There’s something very inspiring and even reassuring and calming about that to me. New York at night is very romantic, I think”
So writes Ola Gjeilo in the introduction to his new album Night, available on CD from Decca (purchase from Amazon UK here) and sheet music from Chester Music/Hal Leonard (the subject of this review).
Those who’ve not yet had the joy of discovering Gjeilo’s music are in for a treat with this album and will hopefully also explore his previous work, including the earlier piano albums Stone Rose (2007), Piano Improvisations (2012) and his immensely popular choral music.
So let’s take our time and journey towards the dizzying and inviting lights of Gjeilo’s Night…
Garreth Brooke is a talented English composer currently living and working in Germany. He 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.
Known professionally as Hauschka, composer Volker Bertelmann has catapulted himself into the top tier of composers. Perhaps best known for his compositions for prepared piano, Haushka has also excelled as a film composer, receiving an Oscar nomination for his soundtrack to the 2016 film “Lion”.
Hauschka’s latest album A Different Forest, a solo piano recording (with some electronic elements and treatments), was released back in February on the Sony Classical label.
There is now also a supporting sheet music publication from Bosworth Edition, distributed by Hal Leonard, the subject of this review…
Faber Music’s numerous piano anthologies have established themselves not only as enticing collections of sought-after pieces, but as a barometer of trends in the piano world.
The newly issued Peaceful Piano Playlist exemplifies this perfectly, offering a selection of relaxing classics and “new classical” pieces that will no doubt have huge appeal to teenagers and adults who play for pleasure and to relax.
If the title (and image above) already appeal, there’s a good chance that you will enjoy this publication immensely. So let’s take a closer look (and listen)…
Ludovico Einaudi’s legion of fans worldwide are no doubt already enjoying his latest release; Seven Days Walking: Day One was released in mid-March, and is to be followed by six further albums, each offering fresh variants on the first, culminating in a boxed set later in the year.
Hot on its heels comes the sheet music publication of the album, brought to us by publishers Chester Music and distributed by Hal Leonard.
Composer Ben Croslandwill be known to many Pianodao readers for his popular Cool Beans series of books published by Editions Musica Ferrum, the most recent and in my view best of which, Magic Beans, I reviewed here.
Ben’s latest publication from Editions Musica Ferrum is Songs from Rainbow Hill, a collection of “Lyric Pieces for Solo Piano” that ties in with his new album recording of the same name.
As such this is very different from his previous publications, taking us deeper into Ben’s own compositional world. So let’s enter …
Lots of piano players enjoy the contemporary stylings of popular composers such as Ludovico Einaudi, Yirumi and David Lanz, but it’s not so easy to find really good arrangements of their music that are accessible to intermediate players, and which manage to be both concise and accurate distillations of the post-minimal piano style.
The search for an educationally sound and musically engaging alternative just got easier with the publication by Schott Music of No Words Necessary, an excellent collection of 12 new pieces composed by Melanie Spanswick.
These interesting and enjoyable pieces will certainly satisfy those looking for approachable contemporary piano solos, and they further confirm Melanie as an imaginative and engaging composer.
Of the many new piano collections reviewed here on Pianodao over the last couple of years, one of the smaller number to make a particular impact within my own teaching studio has been Hans-Günter Heumann’s Fantasy Piano (reviewed here) which has become a firm favourite with early-intermediate players. Pieces such as Rainbow Fairy and The Sunken Island of Atlantis have started to appear in our regular student concerts, and clearly appeal to players and audiences alike.
Heumann has now produced a brand new collection – a sequel, again published by Schott Music, called Mystery Piano. So let’s see how it compares…