2020 / CALIU PIANO
Review by Kathy Parsons
Born is the solo piano debut album by Swedish neo-classical pianist/composer Carl Liungman. The ten original pieces on the album blend improvisation with Liungman’s expressive style, often incorporating rhythmic tension and gentle melodies. Influenced by neo-romanticism, neo-classicism and modern minimalism as well as jazz, contemporary film music and pop music, Liungman’s compositions often reflect a blending of several of these styles to create a musical language of his own. Liungman has written chamber and pop music for theatre, short films, art installations and poetry projects. He has also created jazz poetry by improvising piano music during poetry slams and other occasions. With studies in classical and jazz piano, jazz theory, musicology and composition, as well as years of experience, Carl Liungman presents us with a very eloquent new voice in contemporary music.
After a long search for a piano with the right balance of distinctive yet soft treble and a powerful bass, Born was recorded on the Italian Fazioli grand piano in ABBA co-founder Benny Andersson’s studio in Stockholm. The quiet studio environment and the talented recording technician, Linn Fijal, felt like a perfect fit for Liungman’s project. The album itself depicts a life journey from the beginning to the end.
Appropriately, Born begins with the title track. The swirling movement of the opening suggests a flurry of activity that ebbs and flows throughout the piece, sometimes gently and sometimes with more intensity - an intriguing start! “Anne” is a tribute to Anne Frank. Emotionally powerful passages are contrasted with sections that are more delicate, effectively conveying both strength and fragility. Being a bit of a “beach bum” myself, I can really relate to “Walking the Shores” with its freely changing tempo and expression of peaceful beauty. At almost 7 1/2 minutes, “Son” is the longest track on the album - and also one of the most poignant, expressing a variety of emotions with simple but heartfelt melodies and a repetitive rhythmic pattern that keeps it moving forward - a favorite. I also really like “Night Wings” and its feeling of soaring and gliding effortlessly through the sky - or is it about dreaming? Either way, it’s an evocative beauty that I really love. “Hunter” is built around contrasting themes that range from quiet and simple to much bolder and more energetic. I love the way the piano can express many different kinds of rain, and Liungman’s “Rain” is turbulent and high energy for most of the piece, tapering off to a gentle drizzle before gathering more energy to the end - another favorite! “Where Do the Angels Fly” feels very sweetly dreamlike with a touch of sadness - perhaps the most melodic piece on the album. The title for “Rest” refers to a final resting place after a life well-lived and brings this fascinating album to a gentle close.
I look forward to more music from Carl Liungman in the near-future! Born is available from Amazon, iTunes/Apple Music and streaming sites such as Spotify.
July 19, 2020