Antonio Simone's eagerly anticipated album "Step By Step" which is the sequel to his debut album "Life Colours" does not disappoint!
The title and opening track is actually the antithesis of taking things slowly! - it is more a question of taking little steps whilst making quick progress - light and happy, finding different ways through, changing key, slowing down at times, but not for long, getting second and third wind - what stamina! Fast paced and upbeat, it would appear someone has reached their goal, or at least one of them.
In "Perspectives" there are constant changes in tempo. Imagine looking at situations from all sides, pondering the big issue. Clever nuances are sensed and again the music is quite fast-paced, confident and positive sounding, with high notes perhaps signifying contemplation in another direction, lower notes the deeper issues, and on we go again - mulling over life, never-ending reassessment and ponderings. The track resembles a conversation between two individuals or the mind meanderings of one individual, whilst soul-searching and aiming to find some resolution or peace.
In "Faded Love" the pace slows significantly. This is a reflective, poignant piece, with the continuous punctuating notes slowing the brain down like a solemn chime of a solitary church bell, denoting serious news - calm, questions asked of oneself, memories of tender moments, nostalgia but again, balance and a sense of reality and acceptance. How emotional - only at the end is there a sense of closure and reconciliation and the bell ceases to chime, lending a lighter feel to the piece.
"Days, Weeks, Months, Years", sounds almost frantic at first - time passes so quickly - the flow of the melody and its expressiveness could almost represent the myriad of paths followed in a maze, leading in all different directions and sometimes ending abruptly. One imagines facing constantly changing situations and dilemmas in life, pausing for a while to take stock and then letting life race on faster and faster in direct correlation to the increasing age of the individual. As the piece draws to a close, so does the pace slow, the atmosphere lightens and eventually everything halts - this is, ironically, a welcome relief. What a thought-provoking track!
Possibly my favourite track of the album, "Lost in Your Magic" is sensationally beautiful and would lend itself to being recorded with the backing of a full orchestra. Gorgeous - full of yearning and awe, tenderness and admiration. Extremely emotional, soft, and loving. It seems to have so many layers and great depths and represents a wonderful haven of slow, sensuous music, the high notes being so very expressive. One could build a complete story around this one track alone and the music itself could be an exceptional and evocative contribution to the soundtrack of an intelligent and moving film.
During "White Horse in the West Wind" you can vividly picture that white stallion racing along the beach, whilst the waves lap on the shore, the sun shines and the horse's mane flies out behind in the wind. Just hear the galloping rhythm in this fast-moving and inspired track, which captures the movement of the animal in a miraculous way. This is a happy track, full of joy and vigour.
"Gymnosatie" is an ingenious arrangement of Satie's "Gymnopedie No. 1". One of the peculiarities of this song is that the original "Lent et douloureux" in a time of 3/4 chosen by Satie mutates under the influence of Antonio Simone into a time of 4/4 , producing an effect which is decidedly less gloomy, and whilst Satie's theme (being slightly modified rhythmically) runs right through the piece, and some of the character remains, Antonio has then added sections of his own music and these become embedded with infinite mastery in the body of the work.
"Palummella is Still Flying" - Keeping tradition alive with his innovative rendition of a Neapolitan song, this track acts like a kind of signature, as Antonio included references to some of his heritage in his first album "Life Colours" with the track "Remembering Nenna Né" - so he cleverly keeps his own tradition alive by linking his two albums in this way by staying true to his Italian roots, whilst following his own inimitable artistic path in another, and, moreover, ending with a triumphant flourish!
"Autumn (Nocturne)" - Written some time in the more distant past, this piece of music causes me to think of approaching the end of a lifetime, in a nostalgic way, perhaps of things lost, but also of joys experienced - a tally of memories, which the listener could perhaps compare to brightly coloured leaves falling from trees, many of which are enhanced and become more beautiful as they gradually wither and fall to the ground. This seems to be a somewhat pensive and reflective track, and to me suggests the benefits of the art of meditation and contemplation. It is slow-paced, but by no means sombre.
Light in tone, "Hugs" seems to denote those friendly hugs, which can convey so much, be reassuring, encouraging and non-threatening - the top notes contribute an element of freshness and purity to this enchanting piece.
Track 11 on the album, "Now and Long Ago" is a meditative piece with almost mystical qualities. Strangely the latter are enhanced by the apparently uncomplicated and unadultered style in which this bewitching composition is written. It could perhaps allude to an ancient past, whilst referring also to the present, which would of course not exist without history.
Fast-paced like a swiftly flowing river, "Away Down the River" brings to mind fluttering butterflies and insects, ripples in water, sunny skies and the activity of boats and those on the banks, relaxing by and on the water. What a feel-good composition, which encapsulates happiness in music.
The album finishes with a quiet, perhaps initially sad farewell, "Until I Say Goodbye", as the notes almost have to be drawn from the pianist. May this be an "au revoir", rather than an "adieu", for the very last sound is positive and sweet. What a lovely, delicate conclusion to a most inspired and beautiful album, which is sure to delight many. The tracks are longer than on Antonio's first album and this affords both musician and listener the opportunity to explore the pieces in greater depth; the journeys are longer and more meaningful, both cathartic and uplifting.
I heartily recommend this album and look forward with great anticipation and confidence to further albums and "oeuvres" from this talented pianist, who allows us to paint our own mind pictures with his sensitive and inspired compositions and artistry.
Lynn Pendlebury June 20, 2012
"Step By Step" is the follow-up to Italian composer/pianist Antonio Simone’s stellar 2010 debut, "Life Colours." Simone again combines his extensive background in classical music with contemporary new age stylings, creating music that is complex enough to reveal new layers with each listening yet accessible enough for more casual settings. Although Simone composes for a variety of instruments, this album is again all solo piano, conveying a range of moods and life experiences from bright and lively to quietly reflective to sweetly romantic. When an artist produces an incredible debut, there is always some apprehension about whether his or her second album will be as good. Antonio Simone does not disappoint!
"Step By Step" opens with the title tune, a piece with an exuberant energy and joie de vivre. Carefree and joyful, it’s a wonderful beginning! “Perspectives” also has an infectious energy at the beginning, cooling down to a more thoughtful pace in the middle and then returning to the original theme. “Faded Love” goes in a different direction with a poignant, wistful ballad that comes from the heart. “Days, Weeks, Months, Years” picks up the tempo again, flying at the speed of time. “Lost In Your Magic” is one of those pieces that you keep coming back to because of the dreamy way it makes you feel. I really love this one! “Gymnosatie” gives no hint of where it comes from at the beginning, but after a lovely introduction, it becomes a flowing, graceful interpretation of Satie’s “Gymnopedie #1.” Simone has definitely made this piece his own with original sections that flow in and out of Satie’s familiar theme - another favorite. “Palummella Is Still Flying” is a spirited minor key romp that is both playful and energetic. “Autumn (Nocturne)” is another favorite. The slow, deeply passionate melody conveys a mood of reflection and nostalgia - achingly beautiful! “Now and Long Ago” is elegant, wistful, and very dreamy. The bright and lively melody in “Away Down the River” is touched with melancholy. “Until I Say Goodbye” closes this lovely album with a long musical embrace that will keep you coming back for more!
If you loved "Life Colours," you’ll love "Step By Step," too. If you are new to Antonio Simone’s music, check it out. Recommended!
Step by Step album by Antonio Simon
Take a journey into Antonio’s album they have great effect to the listener and beautifully well done.
“Step by Step” his first song very fast-paced full of energy showing the excitement and joy of waiting for someone then slowing down the pace finally the arrival seeing them and then back to full energy the excitement of being with that special someone.
“Perspective” this tune starts off fast-paced showing life joyful moments then as look into deeply eyes of your love one as the music slowly paces down to remember adoring moments then joyfully the sunshine come back to as music picks ups pace again.
“Faded Love” we slow down considerably in this song showing lots passion … wondering if they ever remember your name again… a faded image of love and all that remains is a broken heart never to be restored.
“Days, Weeks, Months, Years”, fast paced tune this track … memories flood our minds the days feel like week and weeks like months, the months like years and years like eternity we dream forever in time. Great song!
“Lost in your Magic” lots of passion, emotion in this song …expressing how lovers can get lost in their arms of their lovers as they stroll hand in hand the entire world becomes a lovers’ magical realm. Love it so romantic~
“White Horses in the West Wind” joyous melody captures a galloping white horse with his manes leaping with fury in the wind his body warm, glowing in the moonlight galloping through the meadow. Delightful~
“Gymnosatie”, Antonio takes this French composition Gymnosatie No 1 by Erik Satie and adds his own signature to this song. I can image eerie dancing shadows cast on old wall of castle. Like it~
‘Palummells is Still Flying”, lighthearted and energetic also keeping with Italian tradition Antonio is has bought back this song to life with own style and has flying high as in his title. Great energetic song~
“Autumn”, slow melody of autumn in the nighttime full moon, skies full the stars, a crisp breeze softly rustling of leaves, The sound consume thoughts when your love is away and now you look for your love… to hold as the warmth inside begins to glow. Enjoyable~
“Hugs”, happy, lighthearted tune hugs can brings such joy, express thousand words without even touching and just says I think the world of you. Love it~
“Now and Long Ago”, captivating composition could show memory fading as times moves in the present. Cling on to each memory for fear that we may forget our precious memory which we never want to let go. Lovely~
“Away down the River”, cheerful melody hear the cool water splashing, the current dancing to own pace lift setting us free to dare to go anywhere on a great adventure. Joyful tune~
“Until I Say Goodbye”, a song that says we will soon see each other again... so your carry the memories, never forgot never say good-bye. A beautiful song to end the album~