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Physics of Light by Vicente Avella
- posted by Steve Sheppard on 8/2/2022
A true gem of an album
Physics of Light
Vicente Avella
Written by
Steve Sheppard

This latest album by pianist Vicente Avella is part of an ever growing collection of wondrous compositions created by the artist, however this 16 track creation now touches on one of my all-time favourite subjects, the qualities and physics of light. Physics of Light is a true journey through music and via the medium of the artist’s piano, I cannot wait to feel, hear and be part of this experience.
The starting opus is entitled Light Particles and the expressive performance here by Avella is both steady, with an onward motion that slowly builds with an underpinned confidence, one that leads perfectly into one of many favourites for me on the album entitled Radiance. Long have I admired the radiance and sparkling qualities of light on other objects and matter, for example the ocean, here this fine presentation is a flourish of magic that manifests the moment perfectly for me.
The slower and more moody aspects of Where Light and Shadow Meet is simply sublime and is another personal favourite of mine, the reflective minor chords and notes, bring about a blissful juxtaposition between light and shadow on this well-crafted piece.
A former single is up next and released back in 2021, Ultraviolet and its ebullient melody, still plays its harmonic bliss within my mind’s eye and reminds me of just how good a pianist Avella actually is, a tune also that wends its way into the arms of the next piece wonderfully as we arrive at the doorway of Oscuro, a song with a unusual structure, but never the less a track that is dark in parts, and also incredibly addictive to listen to.
The expressions, emotions and scientific reasoning about light is a subject that can spawn much debate on these next pieces, the artist does that perfectly well and illustrates this ever changing medium. Resistance has a quality of purpose and intent built into its narrative as well as containing a charming melody too, while Color Spectrum, has a deep rooted emotional mood within its construct, one that plays beautifully with the heart, whilst Claro elevates the senses to a height, one that almost lifts the soul from the body and into the universe itself, in what is without doubt one of the best performances off the album by Avella.
However when we reach this piece entitled Penumbra, we can honestly say we have reached a point of brilliance, as the artist plays with both light and shadow at the same time, in a presentation that is magnificent in all its aspects.
I love to stand in the late autumn and watch the beams of the sun dance with the first mists of the evening, October is especially magical with regard to this, this is the perfect time to engage Reflection, and just enjoy as the moment unfurls all around you. Vicente Avella on this piece has manifested my awareness of this time perfectly, in a track that is artistically sublime with each note played.
Time for a little Intermezzo, time to relax and enjoy a slice of peace and tranquillity with the pianist before he moves us to a whole new world with the track Opaque Object, here lies a sombre yet colourful tale, and a truly moving piano performance by Avella, a man who is fast becoming one of the most descriptive pianists around in this modern day.
We are now in the deep and darker waters of the release and as we drift on or boat of tone and timbre we come across Umbra, we can all witness this during an eclipse. Avella’s stunning performance here is so proud and resolute that it literally makes the hairs stand up upon the arm, probably one of the most intense pieces the artist has performed to date.
The slow slide into this next song is perfectly timed and placed as we move now to Infrared, an up-tempo presentation that creates a truly focused composition, one that flows perfectly into another favourite of mine in Antumbra; Vicente Avella’s expressions are so passionate here they are actually palpable and so very moving.
The final and concluding musical narrative is Visible Light, this was a truly clever move as this parting gift has a sense of an anthem about its construction and build, and reminds me of another composer Doug Hammer in parts as well, but simply put, the best way and composition with which to leave the album.
Physics of Light by Vicente Avella in my view is without doubt the best work of the artist thus far; this is an album of textures, colours, expressions and presentations, joined with the science of light itself, it is a superior release and probably one of the best in the solo piano genre this year with ease. Physics of Light by Vicente Avella is a must have collection of outstanding well created and crafted musical narratives, a true gem of an album simply too good to be missed.
Rating: Excellent
A Southwest Story by Elizabeth Naccarato
- posted by Robin James on 7/31/2022
New Inspiration in the Vastness of the Southwest
A Southwest Story is a romantic, spiritual and dramatic portrayal of the beauty, history and culture of the land, the seventh release by Elizabeth Naccarato. It features Piano with instrumentals influenced by the music of the Southwest’s Classical roots of Spain, Native American culture and the Old West. Featured artists include Leon Christian and Nancy Rumbel.
The Southwest region of North America is full of adventure, beautiful scenery, great-walled lonely canyons, what you will hear with A Southwest Story is a consistently calm, very sensitive and well arranged album of instrumental piano music with a bright Southwestern flavor. Sometimes the piano is joined by a guitar, or a native flute, English horn, bass, percussion, violin, accordion, or mandolin, and sometimes the piano is solo.
Spanish settlers came through Southern Colorado via New Mexico. When they saw the beauty of the mountains and the fertile valley, it reminded them of Spain. They stopped there and now that location is known as the oldest Town in Colorado. The opening track, "San Luis" (4:42) has a nostalgic sweet sad feeling, a familiar sounding traditional song given tender treatment, piano seasoned with guitar and mandolin.
"Wild Horses" (2:58) has a very Spanish feeling, violin behind the piano just a hint of percussion, feel the horses glide through the landscape, to grace our land, running free, they drink off the Acequia and Rio Grande. It is said the land between Ute Mountain and Mt. Blanca is sacred to Native Americans, "Sacred Land" (5:08) reminds us that holy places strengthen the earth’s biological and cultural diversity, inspiring reverence for land, connecting nature with culture.
"Spanish Dance No. 2 by Granados" (5:25) is a slow dance with lots of colorful fabrics, sad and rich with a quiet feeling, gentle as a breeze of spring. "La Sierra" (4:38) is an ode to the mountains in the distance and forever, a range of mountains with a serrated or irregular outline. The sound is quiet and full, along with the piano, chimes shiver in a breeze. "Shrine of the Stations of the Cross" (3:33) is a sacred story, visitors come from all over to walk the trail to see the magnificent bronze statues and take in the breathtaking views. "The Vega" (4:31) is a piano solo with a deliciously lighter sensation, invoking the Southwest's beautiful skies.
Colorado skies bid farewell to the sun with all its melancholy splendor, "Dusk" ( ) is the album’s first single, a tribute to the end of the day and the beginning of the night, piano and guitar joined by violin. The track "Cowboy's Waltz" (3:30) features an old-time dancehall feeling with hand percussion, high hat and accordian; and "Flower Moon" (3:36) is a piano solo that closes A Southwest Story, a lovely portrait of the full moon in May.
Elizabeth Naccarato’s previous recordings are Jarrell’s Cove (inspired by the coastline of Puget Sound near Seattle and produced by pianist Michael Gettel), North Sycamore (named for a street in West Los Angeles where she spent an early stage of her career, with special guests oboist Nancy Rumbel and saxophonist Richard Warner), Stone Cottage (inspired by a special residence with a wild garden), One Piano (a collaboration with Gettel), History (combining some of her best work with both new and live performances), Souvenir d’Italia which was inspired by one of her favorite places, and now A Southwest Story, a tribute to the Southwestern part of the United States of America.
This newest album enhances the vision of the growing collection of exquisite piano interpretations of various aspects of specific locations and contexts, as well as life itself. Elizabeth Naccarato has achieved a noteworthy translation of the spirit of the land, its cultural history and the flavors and elemental aspects. Each note fits into a magnificent audio portrait of the Southwest, from the environment to how it feels to be there, a hot sun, spirits in the canyons, the languages and religious iconography are included in the melodies and musical forms.
1 San Luis (4:42)
2 Wild Horses (2:58)
3 Sacred Land (5:08)
4 Mi Hito, No! (4:12)
5 Fandango (1:48)
6 Brown Eyes (4:12)
7 Spanish Dance No. 2 by Granados (5:25)
8 La Sierra (4:38)
9 Shrine of the Stations of the Cross (3:33)
10 The Vega (4:31)
11 Dusk (4:08)
12 Cowboy's Waltz (3:30)
13 Flower Moon (3:36)

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Rating: Excellent
Sapphire Oak by Sharon Fendrich
- posted by John Iverson, CKUW 95.9 FM Winnipeg, Canada on 6/19/2022
Another Exceptional Album!
With Sapphire Oak, Sharon Fendrich has created another stunning album of musical artistry, a remarkable follow-up to her outstanding debut album Red Sky Prairie. Sapphire Oak will take you on an ethereal cinematic journey into the realm of nature, oak groves, runes and spirits, replete with lush orchestrations and stirring vocals. This is a true gem in the neoclassical oeuvre, and this album could easily be the soundtrack to a magnificent fantasy movie. The character of the music and the cinematic soundscapes on this album remind me of movie score greats like John Barry and Howard Shore.

Sharon Fendrich has once again shown us her exceptional skills at composing, and she has also proven that she is equally adept at arranging and producing her music. Sharon not only performs the piano parts on this album, but does all of the vocals as well, including a duet with her daughter Talia Valdez, on the touching song "Under Her Canopy".

The performances by the orchestra and guest musicians on Sapphire Oak are exceptional. The beautiful lush sound of the orchestra, Symphonica Recording, is created under the skillful baton of Vladimir Martinka. As such this orchestra provides the perfect backdrop to all of the outstanding music on the album. The guest musicians on Sapphire Oak include Lisa Rydberg on violin, Klara Kallstrom on cello, Stina Hellberg Agback on harp, and Ian Harper, who incidentally has also worked with Loreena McKennitt, on uilleann pipes and Irish whistle. These talented musicians, who must have been inspired by Sharon Fendrich, have immersed themselves into this breathtaking music, and the result is an album bursting with passion and emotion.

All of the pieces on Sapphire Oak are outstanding, but I especially liked Sea of Oaks, Leaves of Glory, The Oaken Door, and Carry the Oak. Sharon Fendrich has injected her whole heart and soul into this recording, and the result is a breathtaking work of art, from the wonderful music right down to the enchanting album cover! I highly recommend this album for lovers of neo-classical, classical, and new age music, and I give it my highest possible rating!

Bravo Sharon!
Rating: Excellent
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