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Album Review: Solo Piano
Aura Noctis
Cover image of the album Solo Piano by Aura Noctis
Solo Piano
Aura Noctis
2024 / Big Cartel Records
29 minutes
Review by Kathy Parsons
Solo Piano is a collection of seven original solo piano arrangements of music previously released by Aura Noctis in ensemble form. Founded in Spain in 2006, Aura Noctis is a Neoclassical / Darkwave project created by pianist / composer Olga B. GarcĂ­a. As a group, Aura Noctis has consisted of piano, cello, oboe, percussion, and vocals in varying combinations, but Olga's magnificent compositions and expressive playing are very much up to the task of conveying a broad mix of emotions and telling stories by themselves. The idea of recording a solo piano album came at the end of 2023 after Olga performed her music in a solo piano concert and many audience members expressed a desire to continue listening to her music without the other instruments. I wasn't familiar with Aura Noctis until Olga emailed me recently, and I'm SO glad she did! I have found Solo Piano to be very powerful and dramatic as well as soulful and deeply-felt. As you may know, I am especially drawn to music that doesn't fall neatly into a specific genre or category, and this album certainly fits that description!

Solo Piano begins with "Trisolgy," a very dark and melancholy piece that also expresses hope and grace. This beautiful track grabbed my attention as soon as it started playing and continues to do so even after seven or eight times through - a great beginning! "Omnia" feels very introspective and reflective - and honest. The rubato (freely-changing) tempo gives the piece a heartfelt and spontaneous feeling that really touches the soul. "Solsticio"goes through many changes in its seven-minute playing time. Sometimes quiet and tender and sometimes very powerful and dramatic, I doubt anyone will fall asleep listening to this one - an amazing adventure and musical journey! "Siberia" is a very "big" piece that expresses darkness and (to me) a feeling of danger and perhaps treachery - a musical warning of sorts. "Segundo Viaje" also goes through several dramatic changes as it evolves and tells its story. The rolling broken chords in the left hand contrast beautifully with the more passionate right - a very colorful piece! If Chopin were alive today, I think he might compose something similar to "Fantasia." With several distinct and soulful themes, it shares a very compelling tale. "Dreaming In Darkness" also combines a variety of dramatic themes to tell its story. Some of those themes are nightmarish and some are gentler, but none of them feel like daydreams! It's a powerful close to an excellent album!

You might have noticed that I didn't single out any favorite tracks on the album - that's how good it is! In the US, Solo Piano can be streamed and downloaded on Amazon, Apple/iTunes, and Bandcamp, and is also available from streaming platforms including Spotify. Very highly recommended if you are looking for some powerful piano solos!
April 3, 2024
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