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Album Review: Ascend
Christine Brown
Cover image of the album Ascend by Christine Brown
Ascend
Christine Brown
2017 / Key Image Music/Christine Brown
63 minutes
Review by Kathy Parsons
Ascend is pianist/composer Christine Brown’s twelfth album and what a great album it is! A collection of fourteen original piano solos that reflect her classical training as well as the soothing, uplifting qualities of new age piano at its best, each piece is a sparkling gem with its own story to tell. Christine has always had a sublimely graceful and elegant piano touch, but some of the music on this album seems to have an even greater emotional and dramatic range than previous releases. In addition to her beautiful original compositions, some of Christine’s albums have included arrangements of children’s songs, medleys of classical and Christmas music (A Classic Christmas in 2012) and medleys of classical and pop/rock music (Seamless in 2016). Her 2014 release of original piano solos, Souvenirs, was awarded Album of the Year by Whisperings Solo Piano Radio. Several of her earlier albums have been on my annual Favorites lists and Ascend is guaranteed a spot on the 2017 list! I think it’s Christine Brown’s best album to date - and Seamless blew me away last year! The album was recorded on Christine’s Kawai RX-7 grand piano and was engineered by Scott D. Davis of Scovis Productions with mastering by Michael McDonald, Syntharts Studios; the piano sound is powerful yet very smooth. As usual, Matt Strieby’s graphic design is stunning.

Ascend begins with the title track, a warmly optimistic piece that welcomes the listener and sets the peaceful tone of the album. “Love’s Legacy” is more melancholy, with deep emotion flowing from one heart to another - a favorite. “Magic Carpet” is quite different with a mysterious Middle Eastern sound that is, indeed, magical. The deep bass of the piano is particularly effective on this piece. “Gravity” is delicate and gentle - an unseen force that keeps us grounded and functioning. “Closer” is a slow, romantic waltz as well as a heartfelt love song - another favorite. I’m really looking forward to the sheet music for “Forest For the Trees,” a gently-flowing piece with passionate passages that send it soaring. “Lotus Breeze” has a slightly Asian flavor and is as delicate as a whisper. “Cherish” is another favorite - deeply-felt emotional expression that comes directly from the heart. “Amethyst Sky” is my favorite track of the fourteen. Watching a beautiful sky can evoke feelings of longing as well as contentment and peace, and this wonderful piece captures those feelings and gives them wings. “Safe and Sound” ends the album in much the same way it began - with warmth and optimism and perhaps a touch of gratitude that all is well.

Ascend is truly an artistic achievement, and I fully expect to see it nominated for a slew of awards in addition to appearing on many “best of” and “favorites” lists. It is available from www.ChristineBrownPiano.com, Amazon, iTunes and CD Baby. I give it my highest recommendation.
October 1, 2017
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