Frank Steiner, Jr.
2021 / s-tone-music
Review by Kathy Parsons
Natura is a wonderful new album from Frank Steiner, Jr. and is his first recording under his own name since his four releases (plus many compilations) on the Real Music label. Also a producer for other artists, Steiner released Natura on his own s-tone-music. He has collaborated with Dutch artist Lex van Someren for more than twenty years and released dozens of CDs and DVDs with him. Born and raised in Germany (and still living there), Steiner studied classical piano, trumpet and music theory and has had a career as a piano maker. Calling his musical style "somewhere between world, new age, jazz and film music," Natura has a relaxed grace and beauty that reflects Steiner's love of nature. There is variety in the instrumentation on Natura, but a soothing warmth and optimism is consistent throughout. Steiner plays piano, trumpet and a variety of keyboards, and, like his albums with Real Music, the sound quality is full, rich and flawless. I think this quote from Steiner's website explains his process well:
"I love nature and I love its diversity. Walks in the different seasons through the woods, across meadows and up mountains with breathtaking views always help to clear the mind and make room for new musical ideas, which take shape even while staying in nature. Later on, back in the studio, when it is time to transfer ideas from the head into reality, to make them audible, to make them tangible, they continue to develop, change, or sometimes take unexpected paths, but their origin remains the same - nature."
As I mentioned, the fourteen original tracks are varied, and I honestly really like them all. The album begins with "Devento," one of my favorites. Gently rhythmic with layers of strings, keyboards, percussion, bass and piano, it sets an easy-going mood for the album and lets you know you're in for a real musical treat! "The Island" adds ethereal choral voices, trumpet and sax to create images of a warm, peaceful place where you can lose yourself and let go of any troubles. "City Lights" is a beautiful, soulful piece for trumpet and other layered sounds that include guitars, strings and vocals. It reminds me a bit of driving through a city late at night when the street lights are still on, but everything seems deserted and quiet. "A Gentle Touch" begins as a simple piano solo, adding other instruments while remaining open and heartfelt - sweetness set to music. "Purple Eve" is another favorite. Mostly a duet for piano and trumpet (how does he play both instruments at the same time?), strings and delicate bells round out the instrumentation and give the music the beautiful aura of a peaceful sunset. "Path to Serenity" is bliss set to music - so serene and contented! At almost eight minutes, you can lose yourself in "Mountaintop," never wanting to be found again! Fully orchestrated with some beautiful trumpet passages, it's a highlight! "Esperanza" includes the sounds of birds and other creatures as well as piano, trumpet, strings and orchestration. Deeply emotional, it expresses poignant feelings of loss and sadness - gorgeous! "Good in the End" closes the album with a bittersweet piano piece with light string washes. Very free and open, it's the perfect ending to a great album.
Natura can be downloaded from Amazon and iTunes, and can be streamed on most digital platforms including Spotify, Pandora and Apple Music. Both thumbs up!
February 20, 2021
Review by Kathy Parsons
Review by Michael Debbage