Neoclassical Piano Preludes
2022 / Gerhard Daum
Review by Kathy Parsons
Neoclassical Piano Preludes is a wonderful collection of eleven original solo piano preludes composed and performed by award-winning, multi-faceted German composer and instrumentalist Gerhard Daum. "Preludes" are were originally defined as shorter pieces intended to be played before larger works, but in the hands of composers like Chopin, Debussy, Rachmaninov and many others, preludes became entities unto themselves - especially those composed for piano. I have reviewed several of Daum's many albums and have loved them all. His recorded music that I have heard is more expressive and emotional than flashy, although his soundtrack work covers a wide variety of film genres and musical styles. He has worked extensively in both Germany and the US and is currently based in Berlin.
On his website, Daum describes the album as:
"Going the extra mile with our neoclassical piano solo releases, our intention is to highlight and illuminate the real and pure acoustic sound of a live performance on a grand piano. The eleven Piano Prelude compositions featured on the album are atmospheric, minimalist, contemporary, and classical with subtle shifting harmonic and melodic movements with contrapuntal rhythms."
In simpler and more personal terms, I'd sum up Neoclassical Piano Preludes as a wonderfully expressive album that continues to take on more depth and nuance the more you listen to it. There have been a lot of truly exceptional albums released in 2022, but this is one of my top favorites!
I can't say I have a favorite of these eleven Preludes - I really like them all! The titles of the preludes are just the number of their playing order, 1-11, leaving the "meaning" of the music up to the listener. For me, "Prelude 1" is quietly reflective and perhaps a bit nostalgic and bittersweet - a lovely start! "Prelude 2" has a very fluid and expressive feeling of strength and optimism. "Prelude 3" goes much darker with a changing palette of chords that convey deep thought and emotion. "Prelude 5" seems to be searching for something with its "subtle shifting harmonic colors." Several themes are woven together to create a beautiful whole. "Prelude 6" begins with a very minimalist series of chords, developing into a series of poignant and expressive themes that are elegant, graceful and deeply moving. Deeply reflective and introspective, "Prelude 9" seems to be looking inward for answers and direction while working through a dilemma or process - very honest and sincere. "Prelude 10" has a dreamy, slightly other-worldly feeling that I find evocative and intriguing. If I could choose only one Prelude, I think it would be this one. "Prelude 11" seems a bit lighter and more optimistic, bringing this excellent album to a close with a warm smile.
If you haven't yet discovered the music of Gerhard Daum, Neoclassical Piano Preludes is a great place to start! Longtime fans will also be delighted with this new work! It is available from Amazon, Apple Music/iTunes, and many streaming sites including Spotify. Very highly recommended!
December 11, 2022