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Album Review: Piano and Cello Duet
Brian Crain
Cover image of the album Piano and Cello Duet by Brian Crain
Piano and Cello Duet
Brian Crain
2006 / Crain Records
59 minutes
Review by Kathy Parsons
I have always loved the soulful sound of piano and cello duets, and Idaho pianist/composer Brian Crain has created a full album of duets for himself and Korean cellist YuJeong Lee - what a treat! The is Crain’s twelfth album to date, and is certainly one of his very best. All fifteen tracks are distinctive, but the mood of the album is consistently one of quiet reflection and warm contentment. Several of the tracks are new arrangements of pieces that were featured on Crain’s previous albums. Ms Lee has studied with cello masters around the world and is obviously at one with her instrument. She and Crain have a shared sensibility about the music that communicates as a sensuous musical dialogue.

The CD opens with the gentle and wistful “Spring Waltz,” a lovely piece full of hope and renewal. “Across the Bay” is dreamy and slightly bittersweet, wondering what it’s like on the other side. “Rolling Clouds” sounds a bit ominous, but these are definitely the white fluffy kind. Mostly a piano solo, this piece reminds me of some of Robin Spielberg’s lighthearted music. “One Morning in June” is a knock-out! Darker and more melancholy, this piece is a perfect blending of both instruments, and if it doesn’t tug at your heart, something is definitely out of whack! “Song For Sienna” is one of the older pieces, composed in honor of Crain’s little daughter (at the time). Warm and full of love, this is another beauty! “Butterfly Waltz” is a carefree ode to springtime and innocence. I love “Early Light,” which more than suggests Erik Satie’s influence. Also a piano solo, Crain really pours his soul into this piece - very haunting and elegant. “Northern Sky” was the title track from Crain’s 2000 release. Gorgeous as a piano solo, the cello makes the gentle melody even more poignant. “Lavender Hills” is also exceptionally nice with a wonderful counterpoint between the two instruments - very peaceful! The closing track is a solo “Tribute to Dax Johnson,” an incredibly talented and charismatic artist who died much too young last fall. Dax was a friend of mine, too, and this piece reflects the sense of loss that all of us who knew him and his work felt and will always feel. The piece is a touching and memorable tribute.

Piano and Cello Duet is one of my favorite albums so far this year, and it’s been a good year for new piano releases. It is currently available only from www.briancrain.com. Very highly recommended!
July 12, 2006
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Kathy's Favorites: 2006
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