This is all really beautiful music. Ravello, a label that appears to focus on local artists and contemporary music, is well worth looking into if you want to try something genuinely new and different. Rachel Lee Guthrie is a composer who is new to me, but based on this disc I would be happy to hear more. Based on baroque, classical, and romantic styles, this recital for solo piano is never anything less than tuneful, and impresses for its range of influences and seriousness of purpose.
That isn't to say that the music is inaccessible. The first track, Flight of the Hummingbird has faint echoes of the Harry Potter universe, and from then on there are all sorts of little nods and winks to other composers and styles. Imagine if George Winston, John Williams (of Star Wars fame), and James Horner all sat down for coffee, and were occasionally interrupted by Scarlatti. That's honestly how fun this disc is, capped off by a Nocturne that quotes Chopin both tastefully and inventively. Guthrie writes well, and the simple titles belie a strong musical purpose.
It's not the world's deepest music, but it works either as very light serious listening or the best background music I've ever heard. The colors are rich and the dynamics are wide; what struck me most was how I never once was bored in the 62 minutes. I often paused to think about how much the music would fit for a film or play. And I've listened both yesterday and today. It's that good.
The sonic quality on this disc is excellent, all three pianists play wonderfully, and the packaging is elegant and pleasing. The disc is also enhanced, allowing computer users to check out scores, the liner notes, and other special features. That's all nice, but for me, the music is what matters. I look forward to hearing more of Guthrie's work; it is well worth the listen.
Copyright © 2012, Brian Wigman