1997 / Philips
Review by Kathy Parsons
Clara Ponty’s debut album fully demonstrates this new artist’s tremendous power as both composer and pianist. At first, I had a hard time getting into the music (it seemed too remote), but it was well worth the time and effort to get inside the music and discover Clara Ponty’s depth and warmth. This is not easy-listening or pop piano music - there are very strong classical elements (I hear Debussy’s influence in many of the pieces) as well as jazz and improvisational qualities. Listeners who enjoy having music unfold and reveal itself over many playings will thoroughly enjoy the ride here. Clara Ponty has obviously had extensive classical training, and her playing is amazing is both its virtuosity and its subtlety.
The CD opens with “Romance”, which was co-composed with Clara’s father, Jean-Luc Ponty, and has a wonderful grace and dancing, flowing quality. In her liner notes, Clara describes “Glimpses of Paradise” as “passing through a prism, a falling spectrum of colors” - a perfect depiction of bright and fleeting bits of color and light. “Mind Spin” is a light and rhythmic abstraction highlighted with a simple percussion background - one of the jazzier pieces. “Jeux d’Oiseaux” and “Sunrise Prayer” contain both classical and jazz elements, and are light and impressionistic tone paintings. “Whispering Winds” opens with ambient sounds that fade out as the piano gently enters - this piece is really lovely. “Reminiscence” is my favorite - “a passionate tale of a breaking heart” - it is slow, delicate, and painfully beautiful. “Melancholy” and “Reflections d’Amour” are sad and introspective mood studies. “Mandarin Dream” opens with piano, and expands to include African percussion - it becomes the most improvised of the pieces. “Fifer’s Tale” closes this very impressive CD on a light yet bold, carefree note. More, more!!!
July 7, 1997