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Album Review: Melancholic Miniatures
Hugo Selles
Cover image of the album Melancholic Miniatures by Hugo Selles
Melancholic Miniatures
Hugo Selles
2023 / Milvus
93 minutes
Review by Kathy Parsons
Melancholic Miniatures is Hugo Selles' fourth album released in 2023 and his second collection of classical piano solos this year. The album is comprised of thirty-six pieces by twenty-five composers who were born as early as 1810 (Robert Schumann) and two that are still alive (Thomas Newman and Arvo Pärt). The composers were born in countries all around the world, but the vast majority were/are European. As you might expect, it's an incredibly diverse mix of musical styles and approaches, all of which the Spanish pianist/composer handles with ease and plays with deeply-felt expression. I have been reviewing Selles' recordings since his 2012 debut, Memories of a Cold Place, which he released as Psychic Equalizer when he was the only member of the "band." One of the most versatile artists I have had the pleasure to review, Selles' albums never fail to impress and inspire.

Born in Santander in 1988, Hugo Selles is a graduate of Jesús de Monasterio Conservatory of Music, Higher School of Music of the Basque Country Musikene, SAE Institute Madrid and The Royal Danish Academy of Music. He completed his Advanced Post-Graduate Diploma Soloist Class at The Royal Danish Academy of Music in November 2017. As a classical pianist and chamber musician, Selles has received many awards and has performed in concert halls and festivals all over the world. He also composes music for and performs with Psychic Equalizer, now a band of very eclectic and accomplished musicians who play a wide variety of styles and instruments. He is also the piano half of Duo Otero, a classical piano and cello duo.

As the title indicates, much of the music on Melancholic Miniatures is on the darker, more pensive side with some of the pieces being more melodic and others more abstract and atonal. Some of the composers are very familiar and some I hadn't heard of, sparking an interest in finding some of this music to add to my own sheet music collection!

There are far too many titles to mention them all, but I can point out a few favorites. The album begins with Jean Sibelius' "Impromptu Op. 5 No. 1 in G minor" and ends with his "Impromptu Op. 5 No. 6 in E major" - fascinating bookends! I especially like the last one, which has an easy, dreamy feeling at the beginning before going darker and more melancholy. Selles really pours his heart into this one and I can't wait to find the sheet music! I also really like Geirr Tweitt's "50 Folk-Tunes from Hardanger, Op. 150 #1: Welcome with Honor," an emotionally powerful and dramatic piece that seems to be telling a story, trailing off at the end. There are two pieces from Thomas Newman's soundtrack for the film, American Beauty that are also exceptionally poignant and very beautiful. Jesús de Monasterio's "Tristeza" touches me deeply every time I hear it - gorgeous and very soulful. Arvo Pärt's "Für Alina" is very spare and yet expresses so much. Ennio Morricone's "Nocturne with No Moon" is also very spare, but Selles creates images of a dark sky that are peaceful yet profound.

Melancholic Miniatures is a wonderful listening experience that demonstrates what an incredible pianist Hugo Selles really is! It is available on Spotify, Tidal, YouTube Music, Deezer and Qubuz. Very highly recommended!
December 22, 2023
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