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Album Review: Three Portraits
Hugo Selles
Cover image of the album Three Portraits by Hugo Selles
Three Portraits
Hugo Selles
2023 / Milvus
75 minutes
Review by Kathy Parsons
Spanish pianist/composer Hugo Selles has been celebrating the tenth anniversary of the release of his first album as well as his varied and inspiring music career over the past ten years. Memories From a Cold Place was released in December 2012 as Psychic Equalizer and at that time, Hugo was the only member of the group. He played piano, keyboards, acoustic guitar, percussion and electronics in addition to composing all of the music. Over time, Psychic Equalizer has grown to become a very eclectic group of international artist/musicians. Since his debut, Hugo has released an incredible body of music in a very impressive variety of styles - solo, with Psychic Equalizer, with the cello/piano Duo Otero, in chamber groups and ensembles, soundtracks and many other projects. Most of the albums that I have reviewed have been Hugo's own original compositions and arrangements. I haven't reviewed all of his albums, but this is the eleventh and Hugo Selles has become one of my favorite artists.

Three Portraits is the first of Hugo's classical albums that I've reviewed, and it is nothing short of jaw-dropping! The Portraits in the album's title refers to classical composers Franz (Ferenc) Liszt (1811-1886), Claude Debussy (1862-1918), and Sergei Rachmaninov (1873-1943) - all known for their beautiful but very challenging piano music. I've watched a number of very impressive videos of Hugo performing classical works, but this album is beyond anything I expected! Three Portraits includes four pieces from Liszt's Années de pèlerinage (French for Years of Pilgrimage): "Églogue," "Aux Cyprès de la Villa d_Este - Threnodie I," "Vallée d_Obermann," and "Sursum Corda;" four Preludes by Debussy from his Preludes, Book 2: "La Puerta del Vino," "Elégie,""Feuilles Mortes," and "Feux d'Artifice"; and eight Preludes and Etudes-tableaux by Rachmaninov (Op. 23, 33 and 39). The music varies widely from quiet and lyrical to passionate and dynamic, and I can promise that you won't fall asleep to this album - or that if you do, your nap won't last long!

Hugo Selles was born in 1988 in Santander. He was the recipient of scholarships from the Botín Foundation of Santander, Warner Music Spain and The Royal Danish Academy of Music, among other institutions. He 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, Hugo has received awards in several competitions in Europe and has performed in concert halls and festivals in Spain, France, Italy, Germany, Denmark, Sweden, Serbia, Singapore, United States and Australia. In addition to music, Hugo is passionate about wildlife and the environment.

Three Portraits is very highly recommended! It is available from Amazon, Apple Music/iTunes and streaming sites including Spotify. If you are interested in learning more about Hugo Selles, we did an in-depth interview in January 2020.
January 26, 2023
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