Donovan Johnson-Enlightened Piano Radio
My Highest Recommendation!
Life And Love: Meditations At The Piano
It's rare that I listen to a recording and have an immediate connection to it. Within seconds of hearing the opening track. "Life And Love" is just such a disk, engaging from the opening melody to the last note that's played. Add to that the fact that this is Joseph's debut album, and you have something that's truly amazing; and frankly priceless.
Joseph Noelliste is clearly a very accomplished pianist, as one can tell in listing to many of these tracks. He's also a brilliant composer, and is able to create sounds on the piano that aren't often heard in the "Contemporary" genre. Particularly with the left hand, one can hear runs, trills and scales used that are foreign to many of today's self taught pianists.
Is the album easy to listen to? Yes and no. Don't be fooled by the title's claim "Meditations At The Piano," as I think Joseph had something very different in mind than music for your morning Zen. I wouldn't choose this as an album to sit and relax to, it takes more active listening to understand and embrace what Joseph has set to sound here. Parts of the album are very graceful, and beautifully melodic. Equally, some of the music in the album is complex, and intriguing without being so "far out there" as to lose the listener. It would appear that Joseph has found the perfect balance between "engaging" and pure musical beauty.
Favorites on the album are the opening track, "A Love Song for Erinie," "Kleiner Waltzer," and "Daydream." "Love Song" opens the album with a beautiful ballad, alternating between major and minor chords, strung together with some really nice chromatic patterns. There is also some really nice use of the minor four chord, a parallel minor progression, and a fantastic one-four-five pattern to wrap it all up. Lovely!
"Kleiner Waltzer" has a sound that takes me back to the days of the impressionists. It has a style similar to something that may have been written by Ravel, if you were to bring the style up to date a bit. Superimposed chords make up the majority of the piece, and occur all over the keyboard. Very interesting left hand melodies compliment the tracks atonal structure, bringing it to resolution at several points throughout, making sense of the elusive chord structure.
"Daydream" has a pleasant, dream like quality which will take you to another place completely. And just as the mind wanders, so do the melodies and chord structures in this piece. Unfolding in a beautiful, listenable way, "Daydream" will put your mind to rest as you drift away for awhile, gradually building to a powerful and arousing end.
"Life And Love" is a diverse album that anyone who appreciates piano music, in any capacity, should own. It's not just an album, it's a brilliant piece of art. And I'm much better for having spent some time with it. You will be too. The album has my highest recommendation!
You can find Joseph Noelliste's "Life And Love: Meditations At The Piano" through ITunes, Amazon, CDBaby, or Joseph's website at: jnoelliste.com