Our Favorite Recently Released Contemporary Piano Music Albums

August 29, 2014 by Admin

Below we present a list (not in any particular order) of our favorite Contemporary piano Music albums released during the second three months of 2014. We highly recommend each of these albums. To qualify for this list, an album had to be a new release (not a re-release) in either April, May, or June of 2014, feature solo piano music (or solo piano with light accompaniment) and be available for purchase on either iTunes, Amazon.com, or CDBaby.com. In selecting these seven+ albums from over a hundred possibilities, we applied the same rigorous standards that we use in choosing music for play on GAIA Prime Radio. So if you enjoy the music we play on our station, we are confident that you will enjoy the music on these albums as well. Click on the album title or CD cover image and you will be taken to iTunes where you can listen to samples of music from that album and/or purchase it.

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The Illusion of Time – Dave Edwards
Quiet and relaxing, yet emotionally evocative and complex piano music that celebrates the beauty and mystery of our world – with substantive orchestral and (occasional) choral accompaniment that draws from a variety of influences – including classical, folk, jazz, ambient, and world music. You could certainly put this album on to provide ambient underscoring for your daily life, but if you choose to sit and listen closely and lose yourself in the music, there are levels of sophistication and creativity that should keep you intrigued.
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The Inner Horse In My Dream – Chen-chen Ho
The most cogent way to describe this album is to simply say that it is “a lot of fun”. This is the third “picture album” in the “Innocence of a Child Trilogy” from artist Chen-chen Ho. The point of the album is to integrate melodic piano music, pictures and lyrics to echo the artist’s childlike innocence, and to help the listener get in touch with their own.

In the artists own words, “Even though I became a musician…, I haven’t forgotten the emotional impact animals had on my inner growth. Through the medium of music, I express my passion for them. Indeed, the spiritual lives of most people nowadays depend on an animal companion. In the world of animals, we see purity and an abundance of feelings. They are spiritual mentors and inspiration for us humans.” In this album, “it’s a horse that allows us to explore our truest selves…my hope is that, whether in real life or in your dreams, you too may find your own “animal mentor” to help you discover your inner child.”

The bottom line is that the music on this album, with solo piano as the primary voice, is both complex and sophisticated, while reflecting a whimsical spirit that will certainly bring a smile to your face. It might even allow you to, if “just for a moment”, reminisce about your own childhood animal companions.

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By A Wire – Jennifer DeFrayne

The backstory for this brilliant and stunning debut album is quite compelling. First and foremost, By A Wire is largely “forged in the fires of personal loss and tempered by the inspiration of overcoming.” The deaths of several close family members (her father, uncle, and sister) and a debilitating stroke in 2009 that left her with many challenges in movement, memory, and speech, as well as the inability to find solace in her piano, made Jennifer fiercely determined to recover and reconnect with the “wires” of her beloved instrument. This album also represents the producing debut of Fiona Joy (other than her own recordings). Co-produced by Will Ackerman and recorded at his Imaginary Road Studio in Vermont, DeFrayne’s deeply expressive piano is backed by an impressive list of musicians that includes Charlie Bisharat (violin), Jeff Oster (flugelhorn), Jill Haley (English horn), Eugene Friesen (cello), Noah Wilding, Rebecca Daniel (Australian Chamber Orchestra), Tony Levin, Tom Eaton and, of course, Will Ackerman.

The result is a strong and intricately beautiful piano-based instrumental album with melodies that reflect a range of heartfelt emotions that express the journey of everyday life, from wistful remembrances, to hope-filled dreams, to the uncertainty and pain of inexplicable loss, and more, making this album a deeply moving and inspirational listening experience.

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The Heart Knows – Michael Mills

If creativity means working beyond the known boundaries of an artistic form to arrive at a new place, then the piano compositions and expressions of Michael Mills are most certainly there. Growing up in the Seattle area, his early years included training in classical piano and composition at the renown Cornish School of Allied Arts – with acclaimed classical composer Lockrem Johnson – and later at the University of Washington’s School of Music. After moving to the Southern Hemisphere in the 90’s, he went on to study jazz performance, composition, and music theory at Massey University’s Conservatorium of Music in New Zealand, and later at Griffith University’s Conservatorium of Music in Queensland, Australia. All of his rich piano music begins as an improvisation and finds its final form in studio post-production. The result is intensely personal and soulful piano centered music that “evokes windswept landscapes, rolling seas, and peaceful dreams.”

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Epic Enchantment – Tony Lauria
An extremely enchanting, soothing, and uplifting collection of soulful piano music, blended colorfully with gentle tones and occasional angelic vocal expressions by Kalyani. The exceptionally creative and sophisticated piano compositions, with strong accompaniment, and excellent production quality, makes this an album that we have no hesitation in recommending highly.
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Piano Painting – Bethany Neese

Bethany Neese is a native of Northern California where, for the past fifteen years, she has thrived as a music educator in Sonoma County. In addition to conducting and accompanying three choirs at a reputable arts high school, her teaching journey has culminated in the creation of SANTA ROSA SINGERS/THE MUSIC STUDIO located in Spring Lake Area of Santa Rosa, California. Her school offers private lessons and group classes in Voice, Guitar and Piano. Bethany has also taught Voice at the Santa Rosa Junior College, Ursuline High School, and Santa Rosa’s 6th Street Playhouse. She is currently also the soloist at St. John’s Catholic Church in Healdsburg on Saturday evenings, as well as the soloist at Hannah Boys’ Center in Sonoma on Sunday mornings, and guides the Hanna Boys’ Choir during mass, along with leading the congregation as its cantor.

In the artists own words, “This CD was inspired by my father. When I was a child learning to play the piano, he would ask me to play my favorite songs so that he could sit comfortably in his large-armed chair and rest for a few minutes. This gave me great joy as it was our special time together. I always held on to this delightful memory of performing for my dad…..”

The result is a thirty minute journey into images of soaring emotions “painted” by the artist on the piano music canvas that is perfect for relaxation, quiet meditation, spiritual nourishment, or a reflection on life experiences.

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Healing Piano Music Collection – Nancy Veldman

This is actually a set of eight albums, all released simultaneously, from pianist, successful fiction author, watercolor artist, and shop owner Nancy Veldman. The eight CDs are titled:

Journey of Grace

A Peaceful Heart

Standing Beneath the Wing

Restoration

Waterstone

Moments

Dream Believer

What I Know Is True

Nancy’s compositions are sincere, textured, poetic, nuanced, and melodic orchestrations that move the heart and soothe the soul. And while the music on each of the albums has a similar basic style (original piano music with strong orchestral accompaniment) the individual musical selections are nonetheless sophisticated and distinctive enough that each CD deserves our independent recommendation.

Coming Soon: Our favorite “Contemporary Instrumental: Multi-Instrumental” albums released in the second three months of 2014.

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