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Album Review: Pianotramp
Hugo Selles
Cover image of the album Pianotramp by Hugo Selles
Pianotramp
Hugo Selles
2022 / Milvus
39 minutes
Review by Kathy Parsons
Pianotramp is a collection of ten of Spanish pianist/composer Hugo Selles' arrangements and improvisations on songs by Supertramp, a British rock band that was formed in 1969. Founded by Roger Hodgson and Rick Davies, the band went through a number of personnel changes over the years with Davies being the only consistent member. Supertramp released their last album of new material in 2002, but the ten pieces on this album were featured on albums from 1970-1982. The music demonstrates the musical versatility of both Supertramp and Selles, and is performed on upright piano, prepared piano, grand piano, fortepiano, and piano percussion. India Hooi appears on piano percussion on "Dreamer," but otherwise the music is all Hugo.

Hugo Selles recently celebrated the tenth anniversary of the release of his first album, Memories From a Cold Place (2012), and his music career has been one of incredible diversity - from classical piano to film soundtracks to original compositions for his own releases and the group Psychic Equalizer, to ensemble work with a variety of artists in a variety of genres and artistic fields. Hugo is clearly an artist who refuses to allow himself or his music to be put into a box. Good music is good music no matter what the genre, and this album covers a lot of musical territory!

Pianotramp begins with "Babaji," one of Hugo's favorite songs by Supertramp. A gorgeous and heartfelt piano solo, the piece ends with an improvisation inspired by a fragment of Rachmaninov's 2nd Piano Concerto. "Ain't Nobody But Me" is a boisterous piano adventure played on several different pianos - some prepared and one not. Wow! "A Soapbox Opera" is a very expressive solo piano arrangement of a song that has been important to Hugo since he was a child - beautifully done! "Dreamer" is a Supertramp classic that begins and ends simply and quietly with a bigger, more playful middle section. The quieter sections are played mostly on a "regular" piano and some passages are played on prepared piano and fortepiano - a fascinating arrangement! At a bit over nine minutes, "Know Who You Are" is the centerpiece of the album. It is also Hugo's favorite Supertramp song and I can see why. With passages that are classical and some that are jazzier, it is played on a magnificent piano and is a tour de force both artistically and compositionally. "Don't Leave Me Now" is my favorite track on the album. A powerful piano ballad, it ranges from painful heartbreak to a passionate plea and goes straight to the heart. "Fool's Overture" is played both traditionally and in various ways on the piano strings to great effect. "Crime of the Century" is a shortened solo piano arrangement of the sax solo from that song - really soulful and beautiful! If Chopin had written any music for Supertramp, it probably would sound much like Hugo's solo piano version of "Hide In Your Shell"! The album ends with a powerful solo piano arrangement of "Aubade and I Am Not Like Other Birds of Prey," a song that goes back more than fifty years. Very slow and deeply emotional, it's a great closing to a great album!

Pianotramp is available from Amazon as well as streaming sites such as Spotify. It's a fascinating album from start to finish, so don't miss it!
July 18, 2022
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Cover image of the album Memories From A Cold Place by Hugo Selles
with Psychic Equalizer
2012