Moonlight in Empty Rooms
2018 / Winterhall Records
Review by Kathy Parsons
There are a lot of new albums released every year, but once in awhile, one comes along that is truly an artistic event. Heidi Breyer’s Moonlight in Empty Rooms is one of those. Subtitled “A Musical Study of the Art of Alexander Volkov,” the set includes a CD of the music, a DVD that includes all of the music plus visual images of the paintings that inspired the music (plus other images), and a 28-page booklet that includes photos of the paintings and thoughts about the artwork written by both Volkov and Breyer. (The music is available to download by itself, but the experience is so much richer with the visuals!) The music was produced by Breyer, Will Ackerman and Tom Eaton, and was engineered, mixed and mastered by Eaton. The twelve tracks are a combination of solo piano (Breyer) and piano with violin (the always-brilliant Charlie Bisharat). The video was designed and produced by Breyer and Volkov.
Heidi Breyer was born in Great Britain and was conservatory-trained at the Trinity College of Music in London. Her albums have been among my favorites for several years, but this one is truly amazing. A true artist herself, Breyer’s composing and playing styles are elegant and graceful, with strong classical influences. The twelve pieces on the album are warm and peaceful, but there is a depth of emotion that expresses the beauty and simplicity of the paintings in a way that words could never match. Breyer has been composing music in response to Volkov’s paintings for almost ten years. As husband and wife, they live with each other’s artistry, creativity and passion for their work as no one else can. I’m thrilled to read that they plan this as Volume One of a series of collaborations that will evolve over the years. The paintings that are included express feelings of quiet peacefulness, as does Breyer’s music, bringing with it deep insight.
Alexander Volkov emigrated to the US from St. Petersburg, Russia more than twenty-five years ago. His realistic paintings appear to be somewhat influenced by Andrew Wyeth’s work in that he takes everyday scenes and makes them extraordinary in their simplicity and beauty. Volkov’s paintings often make wonderful use of light - through windows, cracks or holes in walls, in nature, etc. - and makes that light a vibrant part of the subject. One of my favorites is “Eastertide,” which shows a toy stuffed rabbit on a comfortable chair, bathed in light. A simple vase of yellow flowers is also shadowed on the back of the chair. Such a simple idea that expresses so much. “Unfinished Conversation” is two wine glasses, neither of which is completely empty. Between them is a candle that was very recently extinguished because there is smoke rising from the wick. A window with sheer curtains is on the left side, but on the right is darkness. The only color in the otherwise black, gray and white painting is the red wine in the glasses and a tiny spark at the end of the candle wick. It’s a peaceful but very powerful image.
Moonlight in Empty Rooms is nothing short of a masterpiece and I give it my highest recommendation. The music CD/download is 61 minutes, and so is the DVD. They are available from Amazon, iTunes and CD Baby.
April 10, 2018