Stain on the Sunset - The Album
The follow up to my first collection of solo piano pieces recorded in 2014 entitled "A Dance At Twilight". A slightly deeper more introspective set of pieces based loosely on the environment as a theme, but attempting to maintain variety of style and tempo as in my first studio outing. The ten pieces were recorded during July/August of 2016 on a Bluthner Grand Piano at Clement Piano’s Recording Studios in Nottingham with recording engineer Mick Wilson. The album is to be my first release on the classical label MMC Recordings scheduled for June 2017.
Stain On The Sunset
A piece inspired by a particularly vibrant sunset witnessed when on holiday in the west coast of Scotland, the sky appearing to be almost on fire with the sunset providing a stunning backdrop to the mountains framed against it. I had an idea which seemed to reflect both the tranquillity of the area and also the blaze of colour in the sky contained within two distinct sections of the piece. As the sun finally disappeared it seemed that there was something akin to a blemish on it which gave rise to the name of the piece and eventually the working title of the album.
A delicate waltz in a major key with a simple melody overlaying an arpeggiated left hand movement maintained throughout the piece, reaching a semi-crescendo on two occasions with a right hand octave motif played over the same left hand pattern separated by a bridge section played on the higher register of the piano.
Calm Before The Storm
The piece begins in the higher register of the piano, with the principal melody initially couched in a rubato style to simulate the tranquillity existing just before the storm breaks. As the storm breaks the piece then launches into an up-tempo format with a florid right movement supported by thunderous left hand chords reflecting the ensuing mayhem. The energy is maintained throughout until the closing section where the principal melody returns and slowly fades to simulate the passing of the storm.
An unashamed “New Age” outing acting as a complete antidote to the previous piece, with a peaceful soothing melody maintained throughout against a static bass note to promote a sense of space and calm. The feeling is that this short work would provide a pleasant soundtrack to contemplating the night sky, which is why it was given the title it was.
Flight Over A Mountain
This piece is evocative of a sense of freedom and movement similar to a bird in flight soaring high in the sky for example, with a melody that seems to conjure up just such an image. Again, the use of a static bass note coupled with an expansive melody in the right hand throughout the majority of the piece helps to accentuate the effect. The bridge section maintains the repeated bass note idea as it builds towards the introduction of the original idea and conclusion of the piece.
Prelude At Sunrise
On composing this piece within the context of the album I noticed certain elements of the melody were reminiscent of a sun rising, and was able to use these as focal points throughout the composition. The opening bars set the scene with split chords leading into a semi crescendo announcing the "sunrise" referred to previously. The middle section then leads to the principal climax of the work before restatement of the opening bars to it’s conclusion. The use of tension and release in the piece are pivotal to it’s overall feel, and combine to make this the longest track on the album.
A Sense Of Foreboding
This piece is broadly divided into three sections with the opening passage conveying a feeling of suspense reflected in the title, before launching into a frenzied up tempo second section in stark contrast to what had gone before with a repetitive right hand melodic motif. The third section maintains the up tempo theme but replicates the melody announced in the opening bars of the piece but in an up tempo format albeit slightly altered. To add a slight rhythmic twist to the piece the closing bars end in "5".
Although not strictly in accordance with the general theme of the album, this is an interesting composition as it embraces a “latin” feel, with the syncopated left hand supporting a slightly quirky melody line. It could actually work as a piece for two guitars rather than a strictly solo piano composition but does sit well within the framework of the album. In keeping with the South American flavour the track was titled "Cielo Caido" which is Spanish for "fallen sky" and is a loose reference therefore to the theme of the album.
Winter At Midnight
As the title of the piece suggests this is a slow slightly melancholic piece which is perhaps symbolic of darkness referred to in the title, with a melody primarily built around a broken chord approach. The inspiration for this piece came while being abroad during wintertime and contemplating a starlit sky at midnight as the temperatures plummeted !
Chasing The Rain
The album ends on an optimistic note with an up tempo offering which one concert goer described as being in a “Riverdance” style after a recent performance of the work. It is a vibrant high octane piece with lots of energy and was originally composed for inclusion in a music library compilation CD ,where the brief was to produce a piece of music with a “Scottish feel”. The title is therefore an oblique reference to the weather in that part of the world. This piece along with “Calm Before The Storm” and “Celestial” is the last in an interesting trilogy of pieces played periodically at live performances as they blend well tonally and contrast sympathetically in terms of style and tempo.