Jennifer Thomas | Illumination

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Illumination

by Jennifer Thomas

Dynamic and Cinematic classical crossover piano music with orchestra. This album is a mixture of Jennifer's own original music, with classical works and also a few modern pieces as well.
Genre: Classical: New Age
Release Date: 

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1. Etude for the Dreamer
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2. After the Storm
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3. Illumination
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4. Gymnopédie No. 1
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5. New Life
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6. Beyond the Summit
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7. Into the Forest
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8. Secrets
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9. Toccata and Fugue
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10. Rainforest
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11. Fire Dance
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12. Pachelbel's Canon (a Duet)
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13. Across the Starlit Sky
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14. Requiem for a Dream
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15. Sonata Minoré
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16. Eventide
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17. New World Symphony
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ABOUT THIS ALBUM


Album Notes
Music and Art - One perpetually inspires the other.

As I've worked on this album over the past four years, I've been inspired by my father's beautiful award winning landscape photography. In some instances, the art drove me to write a particular song. And in others, the music came first and inspired the photograph.

Much like how a soundtrack accompanies a film to evoke an emotional response from the viewer - the music of this album accompanies a series of breathtaking photographs taken from the Pacific Northwest down to the California coastline.

Illumination is all about light, empowerment, and goodness. The camera is an instrument created by mankind that physically captures light.

The music and art in this album spans the time of one day - beginning with dreams, and ending with the fiery sunset and the evening stars.

- Jennifer

"Thomas has the golden touch, or better yet the “Thomidas” touch, so much so that Illumination is crying big record label deal. And if not a major label deal then let’s label it right now in the middle of June as potential Album of The Year. It is nothing short of being breathtakingly brilliant! " - Michael Debbage, Mainlypiano.com, June 2012


Reviews


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Alexander

Amazing album
The music is very rich and moving.

Kathy Parsons

From MainlyPiano
Four years in the making, Jennifer Thomas’ spectacular second solo release, "Illumination," has burst upon the music scene overflowing with passion, fiery colors, and a big gutsy sound. A few of the seventeen tracks are more tranquil and soothing, but most are fully orchestrated and worthy of a blockbuster soundtrack. Thomas penned most of the music herself, but she has also included her arrangements of a few classical pieces and a couple of contemporary works. She also created the orchestrations, played the piano and violin, and produced the album. Live cello, violins, and wordless vocals also appear, giving the string parts a much more natural sound than straight digital recording. The accompanying 14-page booklet is also spectacular, with photography by Jennifer’s father, Ron Southworth, some of which inspired the music. It’s a stunning package from the cover inward, so I strongly recommend buying the CD rather than downloading it. Thomas explains that “Illumination is all about light, empowerment, and goodness.... The music and art in this album spans the time of one day - beginning with dreams and ending with the fiery sunset and the evening stars.” It’s quite a day and a very inspiring journey.

"Illumination" begins with “Etude For the Dreamer,” a heart-pounding piano and orchestral piece that exudes excitement and drama. What a way to start the day! “After the Storm” is a bit more peaceful, but piano and strings create their own kind of edgy (and very beautiful) drama. The title track cranks the intensity back up, sometimes swirling and sometimes lightly dancing - always passionate and very alive. The first classical arrangement is Erik Satie’s “Gymnopedie #1,” that composer’s most famous piece. The original is a very spare piano solo, and Thomas’ arrangement includes the original plus her own new additions backed by a full string section. “Into the Forest” introduces the wordless vocals of Felicia Farerre behind piano, strings, and an intense rhythm track - a very stirring piece! I’ve always loved JS Bach’s “Toccata and Fugue in D Minor,” and Thomas’ arrangement does not disappoint! Instead of a heavy organ solo, this one is for piano, strings, and percussion and is just as exciting and dramatic. “Fire Dance” combines the musical pyrotechnics of Isaac Albeniz and Ernesto Lecuona into a Latin tour de force for piano, violin, and light percussion. Hot stuff! “Across the Starlit Sky” is cool, graceful, and very dreamy. “Requiem For a Dream,” also known as “Lux Aeterna”) is one of the most compelling and intense film themes I’ve ever experienced, so finding it here was a fantastic surprise! I used to watch the trailer for the movie over and over just to listen to the spine-tingling theme. Originally recorded by The Kronos Quartet, Thomas has fully orchestrated it with piano, choir and the maximum intensity allowed without blowing out your speakers. I LOVE IT!!! “Eventide” welcomes the end of the day with a gentle grace. Dvorak’s “New World Symphony” closes the album on a sweet and soothing note. An excerpt of Rachmaninoff’s “Piano Concerto #3” is also included in this dynamic arrangement.

If you like bold, intense classically-styled music, you’re going to love "Illumination"! If this isn’t Jennifer Thomas’ breakout album, I’m really going to be shocked and disappointed! Very highly recommended!

bernie scott

The Gift
Everything about this album enriches my life starting with Jennifer's dad's stunningly beautiful illustrations.It is an interesting experience to match musical compositions with them.The richness of the compositions flow from one to the next like a journey through the realms of heaven.Illumination is an apt title for this is what I feel from the opening note to the final tinkle of the ivories.

Mark Maurice

Totally Moving. Buy this music now!
This is one of the most beautiful and moving albums I've heard in a long, long time. The title track alone is worth the price of the entire album. Jennifer takes the best elements of piano music and film scores and weaves them into a dramatic and colorful soundtrack that will sweep you away to a world of light, beauty and inspiration. Buy the physical CD if you can because the artwork by Jennifer's dad is stunning!

REVIEWS NEW AGE

Jennifer Thomas ha regresado a lo grande e Illumination es su nueva carta de pre
El nuevo lanzamiento de la compositora y pianista Jennifer Thomas es el culmen y el claro significado de lo que representa el piano contemporáneo. Por fin lo clásico y lo moderno se dan la mano en un trabajo que ha sabido buscar y conseguir el punto de encuentro en un género musical riquísimo. Illumination combina piezas clásicas, como Gymnopédie No.1 de Satie o el Canon de Pachelbel, con otras grandes obras maestras originales de la propia pianista que, no os engañen, rejuvenecidas en manos de Thomas y una esplendorosa orquesta dirigida por la propia Jennifer y Glenn Gabriel, así como el violín de Kelley Marie Johnson y Jennifer, el chelo de Stephanie Yose y las voces de Felicia Farerre, Rachelle Hrncirik.

Se presenta el álbum con “Etude For the Dreamer”, una obra original de Jennifer. Trepidante y envuelta en una técnica pianística sorprendente, Thomas ha podido dar vida a un clásico. Destreza, estilo y elegancia definen perfectamente a esta obra maestra. Gran comienzo!.

Un juego de cuerdas abre “After the Storm”, una pieza dedicada a un ser querido. La introducción es asombrosa, dejando paso a un apasionante piano, mientras las cuerdas acompañan de fondo con una íntima y sentimental melodía. “After the Storm” es una de mis piezas preferidas, la composición para piano es extraordinaria.

Una de las grandes obras de Illumination, es sin duda la pieza que da título al álbum. En esta ocasión, Thomas se deja el alma en el piano con rápidos toques de notas y acordes, mientras Glenn Gabriel realiza una orquestación digna de ser banda sonora para super-producción de cine. Indudablemente, esta obra merece ser una de las grandes composiciones de Illumination. No la escuchen, vívanla!.

La primera adaptación de una composición clásica es la realizada para “Gymnopédie No.1” de Erik Satie, una de las obras más bellas y relajadas de todo el álbum. Uniendo su piano, con sutiles variaciones sobre la partitura original, y la orquestación por la propia Thomas, “Gymnopédie No. 1” recibe aires nuevos, pero sin perder ni un ápice de su encanto y sentimiento.

Esperanzadora es “New Life”, donde el piano de Jennifer se mezcla con orquesta y un suave synth de fondo. “New Life” crece al paso del tiempo, su melodía desde un principio es poderosa, llegando a ser épica. La orquesta realiza el apogeo de la melodía en su conclusión. Otra de mis preferidas!.

“Beyond the Summit” es otra de esas composiciones que deberían acompañar un largometraje. Pieza compuesta y orquestada por Thomas, la música envuelve por completo al oyente con sus idas y venidas al piano y con una orquestación, que sin quitar protagonismo al piano, le otorga una fuerza sobrenatural a la pista.

Aparece por primera vez una de las grandes voces en Illumination. Felicia Farerre realiza el canto en “Into the Forest”, una pieza mágica, llena de ritmo y con un gran sentimiento de arrojo. Consiguiendo diferentes emociones en una misma composición, la compositora juega con las percusiones, el piano y la orquestación, creando una melodía rica en matices y de los más interesante.

Una de las sorpresas del álbum es la adaptación que Thomas hace de “Secrets”, una composición original de OneRepublic. Una versión, que a mi parecer, mejora la versión original. Fuerza, grandeza, poder, maestría, son algunos de los calificativos que surgen tras escuchar esta brutal pieza. Es una de esas piezas que logran detener el tiempo, que consiguen dejar con la boca abierta al oyente. La originalidad se abre paso en “Secrets” y Jennifer, no conforme con realizar la mejor adaptación de “Secrets”, le añade el chelo la “Suite en Sol Mayor” de Johann Sebastian Bach. Es increíble como cazan las melodías!!. Otra de las grandes en Illumination.

Muchas adaptaciones se han hecho de la famosísima “Toccata and Fugue” de Bach, pero esta que nos presenta Jennifer Thomas es cuanto menos, sorprendente. Ofreciéndole un toque de modernidad a la pieza, Thomas realiza al piano la grandiosa melodía, sus manos corren por el teclado, mientras voces y orquesta adaptan sus notas a la pieza. La técnica utilizada en esta obra deja patente ante qué pianista nos encontramos. Nuevamente, increíble!.

Volvemos a una de las composiciones originales de Jennifer y a la aparición de otra gran voz. “Rainforest” parece ser extraída de un videojuego épico. La música es de carácter amenazador, donde las voces masculinas y en especial, el canto de Rachelle Hrncirik le ofrecen un toque de misterio y consternación.

Realmente estupefacto al escuchar dos grandes en “Fire Dance”, una primera “Asturias” del compositor español Isaac Albéniz, y “Malagueña” de Ernesto Lecuona. En este medley, podemos apreciar la esencia de España, con genialidad, Jennifer altera sutilmente la melodía y juega con castañuelas y palmas, mientras violines, trompetas y por supuesto, el piano, enredan con sus melodías. Qué maravilla, y por supuesto, qué sorpresa!.

Incontables versiones, pero ninguna suena igual, así mismo ocurre con “Pachelbel’s Canon” tocada a cuatro manos, una de las mejores adaptaciones que he escuchado nunca. Aunque la orquesta acompaña al piano, la grandeza de esta pieza está en prestar atención al juego de manos en el piano. La pieza original ha sido variada con estilo y el toque modernista es indescriptible!. Una nueva forma de disfrutar de este clásico entre los clásicos. Genial!.

La primera y única pieza escrita para piano solo de Illumination es “Across the Starlit Sky”. Una pieza reflexiva, rozando la canción de cuna, pero con un estilo romántico y colmado de pasión. Efectivamente, no son necesarios los arreglos orquestales para esta pieza, donde Thomas abre su alma y expone sus sentimientos a través de las notas de esta hermosa y cálida obra.

“Requiem For a Dream” es otra de las adaptaciones de canciones actuales, esta vez de Lux Aeterna. Jennifer arrastra esta composición a su terreno, llevándola a un estilo clásico contemporáneo, donde la energía y el frenesí están presentes de principio a fin en esta memorable versión.

Como es normal, Beethoven no iba a escapar de las manos de Thomas. La pieza elegida por la pianista para Illumination es “Sonata Op. 7. Mov.2”, a la que Jennifer cambia ligeramente su melodía y el título, “Sonata Minoré”. Conservando el encanto, el misterio, y por supuesto, la pasión que derrocha la pieza original, Jennifer se recrea entre violines y orquesta. Fantástico!.

Como ya hiciese en “Secrets”, Jennifer se apoya en la originalidad para mezclar algún clásico con algunas de sus obras, en este caso, “Eventide”, una pieza original de Thomas, la pianista acude al violín de “Sheherazade” de Nikolai Korsakov, interpretado por la violinista Kelley Marie Johnson. “Eventide” es inspiradora, donde un halo de misterio envuelve sus notas y abre las puertas a la imaginación.

Como final, Jennifer Thomas ha elegido el medley de dos obras maestras, la famosísima “Sinfonía No. 9 en Mi Menor” de Dvorák y “El Concierto para Piano No. 3” de Sergei Rachmaninoff. Un dulce final que guarda algunas sorpresas, así como uillean pipes en su melodía y otros instrumentos. Realmente, un final bellísimo y muy acertado para Illumination, un álbum grandioso!.


Después de escuchar y emocionarme, continúo preguntándome si Thomas es consciente de lo que ha creado. Illumination es seductor desde el primer contacto, tanto el contenido como el continente son de una exquisitez y elegancia sorprendentes, el diseño es uno de los mejores trabajos que se han visto nunca, un arte al mismo nivel que las propias obras maestras que se pueden escuchar en el CD, juntos, forman uno de los mejores álbumes de los últimos años. Jennifer Thomas ha regresado a lo grande e Illumination es su nueva carta de presentación, un trabajo que eleva su nombre a lo más alto. Amigos, esto no es sólo música, es mucho más… Maestro Thomas, no hay palabras.

reviewsnewage.com
25/09/12

Illumination

Must Have For Any Music Library
Jennifer has produced an album for the listening pleasure of anyone who appreciates not only piano mastery, but artistic excellence as well. Powerful, subdued, and full of emotion. The entire album is well produced with lovely backing. Highly recommended for any music library. Bravo!

Mark Robertson

Piano CD of the decade!
Dazzling, Jaw dropping, radiant and luminous! Jennifer Thomas has done it again with an amazing stand out from the crowd album. Her album features her own brilliant instrumental works as well as classical and pop music arranged by herself. Thomas has amazed me so much with this album which is a must buy for any music fanatic - a CD that everyone will love and will never disappoint!

David Bruce Davis

What a stunning EPIC album! WOW!
Editorial Review:
In my 30 years of playing piano and listening to beautiful piano music, I have come across many piano players that have dug deep into the inner recesses of my soul and brought me to a peaceful place where I can escape the daily grind. Okay, so that was a little melodramatic, but the point is that there is nothing like a good piano CD to take you on a journey and away from your cares and woes. This album tops them all. Don't get me wrong, David Lanz, Robin Speilberg, Peter Kater, Kostia, Secret Garden, Kevin Kern and Yanni all have their place in my heart, but there is a new brilliant and wonderful player taking place at the top of the list: Jennifer Thomas.

I don't know how to describe the magic that I heard in every piece of music on the album "Key of Sea". Its like a journey played through a beautiful phrasing that crosses over classical boundaries into the New Age and World Music genres. I recently went to Jennifer's Facebook page to see what was going on with her new release. I listened to samples of her upcoming 2012 release, "Illumination", and was floored.

I was first introduced to Jennifer back in 2010 when I heard a song that she had posted on OurStage in one of their instrumental competitions. Immediately I was hooked. Sadly, it was a time when I was out of work and could not afford CDs or MP3 albums. I had put her album on a wishlist at that time. Seeing and hearing the upcoming release reminded me that I had it on a wishlist for almost 2 years now. So I purchased the album around the April time frame and had wanted to write the review around "Key of Sea" but time gets away from you sometimes when you want to write. It is now late July and I had just purchased "Illumination" from Amazon. I downloaded the album from Amazon in the parking lot of my favorite breakfast spot right onto my phone and hooked it up to my car stereo. When I pressed play and put the car into gear and started driving away from my parking spot, I was transported from the daily grind of an hour car ride to work, into a whole other world. I literally don't remember the drive into work. All I remember is this album. I purchased this on Friday the 27th, and its is all I have listened too since that date. Both albums are amazing, and I have to give the tracks to "Key of Sea" some light of day at some point, but I just can't stop playing this new release. It's that good.

Two words to describe this album: Epic passion!

Track Review:

1. Étude for the Dreamer - This song makes me want to put on my running shoes and get back in shape. Why? Because it motivates me. It's epic nature makes me want to reach for that goal that I am aspiring to reach. This is great theme music for life and the pursuit of happiness. Every time I listen to this, it puts me into the right frame of mind.
2. After the Storm - As I see the clouds parting, the rain ending and the sun shining through again onto someone who is standing atop a cliff looking out over the ocean and pondering life. Again, another visionary and powerful song. I feel like I'm transported onto a movie set at the end of a happy moment in time.
3. Illumination - This is the title track. Very strong and emotive again. I can nature blooming all around me, everything awakening, life in all of its glory. This song and this album are a grand re-awakening. This is one of those experiences that will move you, if you are open to it while listening. Listen within the music, not to its structure, but its passion and emotion.
4. Gymnopedie No. 1 - This is the most beautiful version of Erik Satie's music, that I have ever heard.
5. New Life - This song starts out so tender and soft. I love the mix of violins with the piano climbing and the mild percussion in the background. Its painting another picture of a child being born. From the moment of anticipation to the birth at the end. The child pauses and connects with the mother and then takes in the world around them. Brilliant.
6. Beyond the Summit - I feel like I just climbed to the top of the mountain and am now looking out over the grand vistas and the eagles flying through the valley rising up to the sky again. What a great picture this paints.
7. Into the Forest - I love the female vocals on this song and the didgeridoo that floats in from time to time. I feel like I'm running through the forest as the rest of the forest runs and plays with me.
8. Secrets - The first time I heard the opening to this song, I had shivers running down my spine. Very romantic, very touching and it hits an emotional side of getting in touch with your inner self. Then it takes you down the rabbit hole and into a whole other world that just bursts with color and sound and all sorts of fantastic creatures playing. It paints a beautiful storybook world for me.
9. Toccata and Fugue - Again Jennifer takes me on a journey and turns a grand Bach piece into an epic interpretation.
10. Rainforest - Birds flying between the branches of the trees, spider monkeys jumping from branch to branch, tribal rhythms showing their love and respect for Mother Earth, rain falling heavy, flowing from creek to stream to river. Life ebbing and flowing. Awesome song.
11. Fire Dance - I'm being transported to Spain, to a flamenco dance being performed by two very talented dancers throwing their hats into the ring and squaring off with each other, till they twirl and dance their way into a passionate embrace. Very romantic and powerful at the same time. Taking a breath for only a moment before ending in a fury of fire.
12. Pachelbel's Canon (a Duet) - an enjoyable and beautiful version of this popular song. I like the addition of the drum and how the theme builds, and then the change occurs at the two minute mark. This transports me to the more traditional and builds upon itself. Around the three minute mark it turns into an epic piece of music. I've never really been a huge Pachelbel Canon fan, but this takes me to different places within the structure and has actually brought me into liking this piece of music again. Not since I heard David Lanz do his rendition on "Return to the Heart", have I heard a version of this song that has made me feel "at home" again.
13. Across the Starlit Sky - The first time I heard this song, it actually made me tear up. Getting lost in the beauty of our sky at night, out in the middle of nowhere, brings peace to anyone's world. It makes all the problems of our lives fade away, when we realize just how tiny we are in this existence we are in. You can feel the wonder and love in this song. This has become my favorite track on the album.
14. Requiem for a Dream - This song has always been a favorite and even more so now. What a grand version! I love her interpretation of this theme. Its so moving and perfect.
15. Sonata Minore - Another very emotional piece of music that is just so pretty and moving.
16. Eventide - while Across the Starlit Sky has become my favorite track, this is right alongside it. I say these two tie for first. Again, the peace that this song brings, is indescribable. Kelley Marie Johnson plays some of the most beautiful violin I have heard in a long time on this song. This is just a stunningly beautiful song. Tugs on the heartstrings within the first couple of notes and all the way through the song.
17. New World Symphony - What a way to end an album. Jennifer plays an awesome violin solo on this track that takes my breath away. Just one simple word: WOW. Just kick back and listen and take it in. WOW.

All the tracks of the album are just heavenly. I can't say this enough, buy this release, support independent artists like Jennifer Thomas. Attend their concerts when they are performing and help them bring new music to the masses by turning other people onto their latest releases. Go to jenniferthomasmusic.com and click on the link to purchase her CDs or MP3s and get lost in the paradise of her compositions. Oh and make sure you pick up "Key of Sea" as well!