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Bill Brennan: Solo Piano (2005)

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Bill Brennan: Solo Piano How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.

Newfoundlander Bill Brennan has created a beguiling, meditative and quite deep solo piano album with Solo Piano. He shares the same homeland as Patrick Boyle, and one can hear the very air and landscape pictured on the liner—a grey sky, boulder-strewn ground, and shallow stream—and a sense of isolation, but with a close connection to the nature of the place.

The pieces all have a floating quality. Brennan uses lots of pedal, sustained by overtones which, once you become aware of them, surround the piano with a high sheen. Their rhythmic quality is one of softness; nothing overtly swings, but rather lilts. This is jazz on the classical side, where the sound of an extremely honed touch avoids any stiffness, true for even the most composed and classical sounding piece, "Au Revoir Les Enfants," which is full of rubato and shifts back and forth from major to minor.

"Time Piece" has a bit of a feel of ballet music or an impressionistic Debussy prelude. Brennan sets a mood with the left hand, and then slowly adds color to flesh out the scene. "AM's Waltz" uses counter-rhythms to soften and subvert the triple time, while the harmonic movement of the beginning of "Pere Lachaise" is reminiscent of Chopin's E minor prelude. "Shale" paints one of the largest scenes and yet is quite delicate, but with an intensity that relentlessly pulls the listener in.

Brennan might wear his heart on his sleeve, but this music is very deeply felt, and it is easy to begin listening and then look up later, only to discover that an hour has gone by. Solo Piano is a lesson in subtlety and finesse where few notes take up much space and the music plunges deep.

Solo Piano is available online at the Canadian Music Centre.

Track Listing: Time Peace; Looking Glass; Au Revoir Les Enfants; Friends; Passage Overseas; AM's Waltz; Shale; Pere Lachaise; Petroushka's Dream; In Memoriam.

Personnel: Bill Brennan: piano.

Record Label: Self Produced

Style: Ambient


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