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Album Review: Piano Sanctuary
Masako
Cover image of the album Piano Sanctuary by Masako
Piano Sanctuary
Masako
2017 / Masako
42 minutes
Review by Kathy Parsons
Masako’s third album is solo piano at its very best. A lyrical, graceful and very expressive blending of classical, new age and smooth jazz stylings, Piano Sanctuary provides a warm and soothing escape from the craziness of our contemporary world. Like her first two albums, Piano Sanctuary was co-produced with Will Ackerman and Tom Eaton and was recorded at Ackerman’s Imaginary Road Studios in Vermont. A Japanese-born pianist and composer living in the northeastern United States, Masako started taking piano lessons at the age of four. She belonged to Music House Moz in Japan and performed in clubs in and around Tokyo as a keyboardist. She also taught at the Yamaha Music School for many years as a certified piano instructor. Her debut album, MASAKO, won Zone Music Reporter’s “Best New Artist of 2013” and her second album, Call of the Mountain, won ZMR’s “Best Piano Album of 2014.” I have no doubt that Piano Sanctuary will also be recognized as one of the best albums of this year.

Piano Sanctuary begins with “When You Were Little,” a lovely piece of wordless story-telling. Sometimes sweetly nostalgic and sometimes a bit more dramatic, it’s a great opener that immediately draws the listener in. “Ragrima” is very dreamy and peaceful, highlighting Masako’s velvety touch on the piano keyboard. “The Bird and The River” is a favorite. My interpretation is that the gently flowing, but steadily moving passages are the river (mostly the left hand) and the more dramatic and fluttery parts are descriptive of the bird flying above the water and sometimes touching down - perhaps in search of a fish. Love it! “Midnight Sun” is both very elegant and very peaceful with a spare melody and the use of some evocative jazz harmonies - gorgeous! “A Tale of Lonely Otter” first appeared on Masako’s debut album as an ensemble piece, but it is a piano solo here - and a beautiful one at that! Another favorite is “Sailing,” a higher-energy piece with an exhilarating sense of adventure and freedom. “The Lost Estate” tells us another story without the use of words. Sometimes a lyrical waltz, the graceful rhythms and gentle melodies combine to tell a bittersweet tale. “Frozen Quarry” sounds brutal, but even though it expresses a chill, the scene is peaceful and serene. “Tender Stories” overflows with love as it brings this excellent album to a close.

I really think Masako’s third album is her best (so far!) and I hope more of her albums will be solo piano! Piano Sanctuary is available from www.Masako-Music.com, Amazon, iTunes and CD Baby. Very highly recommended!
November 6, 2017
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