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Album Review: Water Sign
David Lanz
Cover image of the album Water Sign by David Lanz
Water Sign
David Lanz
2020 / DKL Records
59 minutes
Review by Kathy Parsons
When people refer to "new age piano," David Lanz's name is always one of the first to come up - and with good reason. He released his first album, Heartsounds, on the Narada label in 1983 and has released at least 40 albums since then. I attended David's first concert in San Francisco in the early 1990's (and many others!) and have been hooked on his music ever since. Until he released Water Sign, Skyline Firedance (1990) was my favorite of his albums because of the dynamic range of the music (that album also contains many of my favorite pieces to play and became a large part of my teaching repertoire). All of Lanz's albums have been exceptional, but some of the music on Water Sign is very dramatic, putting it right up there with my favorites. (Several of the other pieces are in Lanz's signature gentle, lyrical style.) The centerpiece of the album is "The Water Sign Suite," a group of six pieces that express the many properties of water, from placid and still to pounding surf and torrential rains. The other eight tracks were inspired by the sunny weather of the island of Cypress, the moon, family and romantic love.

Water Sign begins with "My Aphrodite," a love song written for Lanz's wife and collaborator, Kristin Amarie. A sweet tenderness flows throughout the piece and reminds us of why we fell in love with Lanz's music in the first place. "Sol Dance" is a lively and lighthearted ode to the sun. "Ponte Dell'amante (Lovers' Bridge)" overflows with longing and love - sure to become a Lanz classic!

"Wonder Wave" is the first piece in the "The Water Sign Suite." Its main theme has the rapid movement and powerful energy of "Firedance" and "Dark Horse" weaving in and out of a more tranquil theme that seems to anticipate the return of powerful waves. "Rain Dancer Returns" is a solo piano arrangement of "Rain Dancer" from Lanz and Gary Stroutsos' Sacred Earth (2010) (aka Living Temples) album. I really love this piece as a solo! It describes an unexpected rain storm and a resulting deluge of rushing water - an energetic dance all over the piano keys! "The Water Bearer" is a dynamic piece that expresses a wide range of emotions from quiet and pensive to turbulent and stormy. Is there anything more peaceful or romantic than the moon reflected on the surface of a quiet lake? "Moonlight Lake" is also destined to become Lanz classic - gorgeous! The suite concludes with the joyful "Neptune Dancing." The Roman god of the seas and fresh water laughs at the moon as he dances on the waves before disappearing under the water.

"If I Could Write a Million Songs" is a lovely ballad that suggested its own title as it was being composed. Tender yet deeply emotional, it's a favorite! "Helen Anais" and "My Little Moonbeams" celebrate the joy and innocence of young childhood as well as the Lanz family's young twin daughters. The album comes to a close with "Lovers' Waltz," a dreamy dance for a romantic meeting under the stars.

Water Sign proves without a doubt that David Lanz's music still goes straight to the heart, touching the soul as only music can. Fellow pianists will be happy to know that a songbook with all of the sheet music from the album plus a bonus piece will be available soon! The album is very widely available, so don't miss it!
February 9, 2021
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