Pianist and composer Nikki Yeoh makes her solo debut with Solo Gemini. The title encapsulates the performer and the performancea solo piano recording by musician with the star-sign of the Heavenly Twins. Yeoh shares a birthday with Bob Dylan, but her musical style is far removed from that particular troubadour.
Solo Gemini encompasses music written over a 25 year period (during which time Yeoh has, among other activities, played with Neneh Cherry and Courtney Pine and composed for Joanna McGregor). "Mutual Serenade" is the oldest piece, written by the 18-year-old Yeoh after she hung out with Hermeto Pascoal at Ronnie Scott's club in London. The tunes have often arisen from episodes in Yeoh's own life, but occasionally something a little more fantastical provides the inspiration.
The musical range is broad. The lengthy "Six As 1" (commissioned by Max Richter) has some strong rhythms, from funk-ish to folk-ish, but the tense mid-section takes a darker and less comfortable turn. The shorter pieces"What Kind? This Kind!," "Solo Gemini" and "Perfectidd" for exampletake the music through a range of moods and tempos but all share an intimate and engaging feel. Yeoh wrote "The Healer" on tour in India in 1999: it's a languid, lovely tune. The cheerful "Dance Of Two Small Bears" tells of the love between two bears as they dance in a forest and Yeoh's shifting tempos conjure images of the romantic events.
Yeoh recorded Solo Gemini in 2014, during her time as artist-in-residence at Aldeburgh, the music and arts venue at Snape Maltings established by composer Benjamin Britten. The Maltings' serene rural setting might have something to do with the mature and confident playing that characterises Yeoh's musicianship across the album.
Six As 1; Perfectidd; What Kind? This Kind!; Solo Gemini; The Healer; Mutual Serenade; Dance Of The Two Small Bears; Elderflower And Ivy.