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Album Review: Norwegian Rain
David Lanz
Cover image of the album Norwegian Rain by David Lanz
Norwegian Rain
David Lanz
2016 / DKL Records
64 minutes
Review by Kathy Parsons
It’s been three years since David Lanz’s last solo piano album, and I’m sure many of his fans were getting worried. The good news is that Norwegian Rain is here and was worth the wait! In the time since the 2013 release of Movements of the Heart, Lanz and his wife, Kristin Amarie, moved to France and more recently to Cyprus, so there have been many changes in their lives! What hasn’t changed is Lanz’s expressive touch on the piano keys, lyrical melodies, and accessible musical storytelling. The title of the album refers to Kristin’s Norwegian homeland and the times she and David have visited. While there, David developed a strong bond with an old upright piano that belonged to Kristin’s grandfather, and quite a few of the sixteen pieces on Norwegian Rain were born on this beloved family instrument. The music ranges from slow and dreamy to lively and playful, and several titles refer to the weather and seasons in Norway, which sound like they might not be too different from David’s native Seattle. There really aren’t any surprises on the album, but I’m sure fans of David Lanz’s solo piano music will not be disappointed. I recently proof-read the sheet music for the companion songbook for Norwegian Rain, and it should be available before the end of the year.

The album begins with “The Norwegian Rain Suite,” a grouping of four pieces. The first is the title song, which alternates from melancholy and bittersweet to lively and joyful. This piece is distinctively David Lanz and has many of his signature touches. “The Approaching Storm” begins calmly with a hint of mystery and gradually builds as the storm gets closer. A beautifully descriptive piece that becomes very dramatic, it’s a favorite to both listen to and to play. “Cloud Burst” starts with the sound of thunder created inside the piano (there is also the sound of pouring rain that I hope was NOT created inside the piano!!!). Using reverb to great effect, this short piece is a pianistic impression of a cloudburst. “And the Skies Opened Up” is the fourth piece in the suite and dances all over the piano keyboard, playfully describing a heavy rainstorm. “Autumn Come Winter” is much more peaceful, gracefully reflecting on the changes in the seasons. “Fjord Spring” has a sweetly infectious energy. Sometimes as delicate as the opening of a flower bud and sometimes bigger and more celebratory, it’s another favorite. I’m pretty sure “A Child For All Seasons” is a new variation on “Summer’s Child,” and what a beauty it is! Wistful and dreamy, it’s a wonderful update of an old favorite. “Troll Dance” is another favorite. It begins with an ambient and flowing introduction; the second section is slow and stately, and then the fun begins. Fans of the powerful music Lanz wrote for his Skyline Firedance album will love the passion and energy of this one! “Kristina” is a tender love song that overflows with emotion. I love the occasional crossovers into the deep bass of the piano! “Sunset Over Nordland” is so peaceful and relaxed that it softly massages any tensions away. “Waltz of the Northern Moon” has a dark and mysterious introductory section and then begins the waltz. The gently-rolling left hand propels the right hand melody, which is sometimes soft and delicate and at other times much bigger and more dramatic. It’s a perfect ending to this anxiously-anticipated album.

David Lanz has been one of my very favorite pianist/composers for many years and it’s great to have some new solo piano music from him! Norwegian Rain is available from www.DavidLanz.com, Amazon, iTunes, and CD Baby. Recommended!
November 7, 2016
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