Concert for Civilization
Johan J. Solco Bakker
2006 / Johan Bakker
Review by Kathy Parsons
Concert for Civilization is Johan Bakker’s third solo piano release and shows a great deal of artistic growth since his previous “Whisperkiss” (2000). Sadly, the Dutch artist has been suffering from Pompe disease, which causes progressive muscle weakness and a great deal of pain. The creation of this album was Bakker’s way of dealing with the situation, unsure of how long he would be able to keep playing the piano. The music is understandably moody, but doesn’t convey despair or panic. It feels more like an open and heartfelt dialog with the piano, a trusted and beloved friend and comfort. Until recently, Bakker was unable to sit at the piano for more than five or ten minutes without a great deal of pain in his shoulders, arms, and legs. Happily, he is now using an experimental drug that is bringing tremendous improvement, allowing him to play pain-free for a longer and longer time - wonderful news indeed! The translation of the subtitle for the album, “Nient’ altro che un sogno,” is “Just like (in) a dream. Nothing more.” A fluid, dreamlike quality is present in all of the music, which was five years in the making. This CD has been chosen as the soundtrack for an international film being produced by Odelion in Paris.
The CD begins with “Preludio, l’inizio” (Prelude, the start). Very open and sparse, it evolves into “Come in un Sogno, l’essenza” (As In a Dream, the Essence),” a brief but tantalizing tidbit. “Dolce Melodica” (Sweet Melody) is a bit more structured and melodic, and is full of longing and reflection. “Polvere d’oro di stelle” (Golden Dust from a Star) is mysterious and magical in a flowing, dreamy way. “Come in un sogno, libero” (As in a Dream, Feel Free) is one of Bakker’s favorites. Loosely structured, there is a strong feeling of reflection and exploration both emotionally and with the piano - a very evocative musical statement that evolves organically and naturally, going through several mood changes. “All’ improvviso rilassato e lento” (Suddenly Slow, Relaxed) is probably the darkest of the pieces, and my own favorite. Very introspective and open, this piece also has a very organic development and a variety of themes that are interwoven to create a beautiful whole. Bakker’s other favorite is “Come in un sogno Lusinghiero” (As In a Dream, Smooth), which is lighter in tone, but still very dreamy and exploratory with sparkling notes in the upper registers and a fluid structure - another very beautiful piece. I also really like “Rosa afosa mediterranea” (Sultry Mediterranean Soundhole) with its deep emotional colors. The CD closes with “Festa da tangram mediterranea” (A Party Like a Mediterranean Tangram,” which is more upbeat, but also very dramatic. A tangram is an ancient Chinese moving piece puzzle, consisting of seven geometric shapes, so I’m not sure what the title means, but it has several themes that keep moving.
Concert for Civilization is a very stirring musical work of art that combines classical, new age, and ambient stylings in a deeply personal way. I’m thrilled to know that Johan Bakker will be able to continue sharing his music with us! This CD is available from cdbaby.com and amazon.com. Recommended!
August 11, 2006