Isle of Shadows
2022 / Christopher Boscole Music
Review by Kathy Parsons
Isle of Shadows is pianist/composer Christopher Boscole's thirteenth album. Subtitled A New Age of Classical Piano, the twelve tracks include Boscole's arrangements of eleven classical pieces and one original - all are solo piano. Recorded live in his studio on the island of Kauai, the music is mostly familiar and is on the peaceful, soothing side. With familiar classics, it's not surprising that the composers whose music is included are Beethoven, Chopin, Bach, Faure, Debussy and Schumann. Much to my delight, so is Scott Joplin! Boscole also included the composer of the title track, Selim Palmgren, a Finnish composer I wasn't familiar with. The recording was mastered by Joe Bongiorno at his Piano Haven Studio, and the piano sound is flawless. I should note that the classical pieces aren't changed much from the originals and some are played as written with some freedom of expression.
Isle of Shadows begins with Gabriel Faure's "Romance San Paroles Op. 17 No. 3," a graceful, dreamy piece that gives the album a warm and welcoming start. "Nocturne in Eb, Op. 9 No. 2" is one of Chopin's best-known and most-loved pieces, and Boscole does a beautiful job with it. He also performs Chopin's "Prelude in Ab Major, Op. 28 No. 17" later in the album- very elegantly performed. The second movement of Beethoven's "Sonata Pathetique" is also one of his most popular piano solos, as is "Moonlight Sonata," which is featured later on the album. The title track is by Finnish composer/pianist/conductor Selim Palmgren (1878-1951), a composer I need to explore a bit! The piece is smooth, elegant and very beautiful. Faure's "Pavane Op. 50" is one of those pieces that grabs me every time I hear it and Boscole plays it with heartfelt expression. Debussy's "La Fille aux Cheveaux de lin" is delicate, expressive and dreamy. JS Bach's "Air" from his "Suite No. 3 in D Major" is one of his most familiar non-organ pieces - smooth and easy-going. As I mentioned, I was thrilled to see that Scott Joplin's "Solace - A Mexican Serenade" was included on the album. It was composed in 1909 and although it was included in the soundtrack for The Sting along with "The Entertainer," it really isn't a rag. It's a wonderful piece with a gently rocking rhythm and wistful melody. Robert Schumann's "Traumerei" is one of the most beloved piano solos ever written. It isn't difficult to play the notes, but the deep emotion expressed in the music takes some experience and Boscole does Schumann proud. Boscole ends the album with his own composition, "Until We Meet Again." Warm, poignant and heartfelt, it's a great close to a very lovely album.
Isle of Shadows is an excellent choice for music for relaxation, studying, and background music as well as for focused listening to savor and get lost in. It is available from Amazon, Apple Music/iTunes and streaming sites including Spotify. Both thumbs up!
October 2, 2022