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Album Review: Renaissance
Dulce Joya Leon
Cover image of the album Renaissance by Dulce Joya Leon
Dulce Joya Leon
2020 / Dulce Joya Leon Music
81 minutes
Review by Kathy Parsons
Renaissance is a collection of thirteen instrumental "stories" by Dulce Joya León that are sometimes expressed as piano solos and sometimes as more fully-orchestrated works. Some of the pieces were inspired or influenced by classical music while others come from dreams, theater music and/or rock/pop music. Dulce Joya describes the album as "a compilation of different stories, with every track a fascinating travel to a new world full of colors and magic." The pieces vary widely in style and mood, making it a fascinating musical journey. This is the third album of Dulce Joya's that I've reviewed, and I am more and more impressed with her music. Renaissance is my favorite of her albums so far!

Dulce Joya was born in Cuba and began her classical studies at the conservatory in her hometown. She continued those studies in Havana until she left Cuba in 1990. She moved to Bogota, Columbia and studied at the National University and the Javeriana University. In the late 1990's, she moved to Salzburg, Austria to complete her Bachelor's Degree with a specialty in choir and jazz and later earned a Master's Degree in Piano and Instrumental Pedagogy at Mozarteum University Salzburg, completing her studies in 2005.

Quoting Dulce: “All of this accumulated experience serves me now for my compositions. I think that music is one of the few pleasures in life that has no limits. Rather than categorize my compositions, I prefer to enjoy the freedom to travel from one style to another fluidly, giving me flexibility and management of tempo, rhythm and different harmonies – like a game between tension and relaxation.”

Renaissance begins with "Arcadia," a peaceful piano piece with light string accompaniment that describes a beautiful garden. "Heavenly You," a more dramatic piano solo, alternates between tenderness and passion, expressing a lovely range of emotions The opening notes of "Moonlight Fantasy" hint at Beethoven, but just a little bit. One of my favorites, the piece is pure piano magic - elegant, flowing and very expressive. "Eden" is also a favorite and is more symphonic. At a little more than nine minutes, it unfolds slowly and gracefully with a soothing and calming effect. I love "Fighters," a deeply emotional piano solo that is anything but aggressive or combative. I'm not sure what the title refers to, but the music comes from the heart and feels more pleading than angry - gorgeous! "Lacrimosa" returns to a more symphonic style that is dark, mournful and mysterious - very cinematic. "Caverna Cordium," a piano solo, was inspired by Chopin's "Marche Funebre." Very dark and mournful at the beginning, the emotions become more impassioned - from powerful to despairing - as the piece unfolds - an amazing work! "Preludio Op. 1 #1 in E Minor" was obviously inspired by Chopin, but is a heartfelt and magical original piano solo - wonderfully expressive! "Iuvavum" begins with Mozart's A minor Sonata, a piece most piano students learn, and then goes on a beautiful exploration of the piece with phrases from the original interwoven here and there. Renaissance comes to a close with an elegant arrangement of the "Adagio" by Tomaso Albinoni that features Paul Landry on guitar, Dulce Joya on piano, and an orchestral accompaniment. What a wonderful way to end this incredible album!

If you are new to Dulce Joya Léon's music, Renaissance is a great place to start! Her fans will love every note! The album is available from Amazon, Apple Music/iTunes and streaming sites such as Spotify. Don't miss it!
March 14, 2021
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