Quietudes For Piano, Nos. 1-12
James Michael Stevens
2019 / James M Stevens Music
Review by Kathy Parsons
Quietudes For Piano, Nos. 1-12 is a collection of original piano solos composed in each of the major key signatures by pianist/composer/professor James Michael Stevens. Stevens calls the music “ambient,” but I find it to be rather melodic in a free and easy sort of way. The rhythms are uncomplicated, making the music very pleasant and relaxing to listen to either with focus or in the background. Music in major keys tends to be on the happy, contented or dreamy side (there are plenty of exceptions, of course!), and these twelve pieces fit that description quite well, making it an optimistic and uplifting listening experience. I found it interesting that the pieces appear on the album starting in the key of C and moving up the piano keyboard in half steps rather than by the number of sharps or flats as they are added. (C to Db to D to Eb, etc.) For the pianists reading this, there is a companion sheet music book available from SheetMusicPlus.com (also reviewed on MainlyPiano.com).
James Michael Stevens has released an impressive body of recordings, but I have to admit that this is the first of his music that I’ve heard - I like it! Dr. Stevens (MCM and DMA) is the Chairman of the Music Department at Welch College in Gallatin, TN.
I like all twelve of the “Quietudes” on the album and the easy way they flow from one piece to the next. There is a similarity to the pieces, but each is distinctive in its own way and doesn’t need to be played as part of a whole set of pieces. “Quietude #1 in C Major” has a gentle, wistful quality that sets the tone of the album - a very nice start! “Quietude #2 in Db” feels like the soundtrack to a very pleasant daydream. “#4 in Eb” changes things up a bit by putting the melody in the left hand. I really like the quiet, peaceful beauty of “#6 in F” and “#7 in Gb.” “#9 in Ab” makes me think of music that could be played in a soundtrack behind visuals of a lush green landscape - perhaps returning home after a period of time or something equally nostalgic and pleasant - love it! “#12 in B” brings the album to a close a half step lower than when we started this sweet musical excursion and leaves us feeling refreshed and in a better frame of mind.
I’m really looking forward to hearing more of James Michael Stevens’ music! Quietudes For Piano, Nos. 1-12 is available from Amazon and iTunes/Apple Music as well as several streaming sites.
December 21, 2019