Solace of Mountains and Clouds
2019 / Overland Mountain Music
Review by Kathy Parsons
Solace of Mountains and Clouds is pianist/composer Kathryn Kaye’s eighth album since her 2010 debut, Dreaming Still. Recorded at Will Ackerman’s Imaginary Road Studio in Vermont, the album consists of three original piano solos and seven ensemble pieces with Imaginary Road luminaries such as Charlie Bisharat (violin), Jill Haley (oboe and English horn), Tony Levin (bass) and Gus Sebring (French horn). Co-produced by Kaye, Ackerman and Tom Eaton, Eaton also appears on several tracks on accordion, bass and electric guitar.
Kathryn Kaye is widely know for her velvety piano touch and graceful playing style as well as for her deep love for nature and the mountains that surround her rural Colorado home. I have been enchanted by all eight of her albums, four of which have won Zone Music Reporter’s Album of the Year awards. Her 2018 Songs of Changing Light was nominated for Best Solo Piano Album this year. I would expect no less from Solace of Mountains and Clouds. Kaye describes the album: “Solace of Mountains and Clouds is a musical reflection of my sense of wonder, joy and peace as I watch the mountains and clouds change with the passage of minutes and hours, the weather, and the seasons. I believe that music, much like nature, speaks many languages and is a reminder of the underlying unity of human beings everywhere.”
The album begins with “Luna’s Dream,” an ensemble piece for piano, violin, English horn, bass and percussion. I believe the title refers to one of Kaye’s dogs, and the piece is a wonderful group of themes that range from almost ambient to more upbeat and jazzy. Anyone who has watched a dog sleep knows that they have very vivid dreams that seem to include running and swimming with the way their legs and bodies move and twitch before settling back to a peaceful slumber. “For Love of Earth and Sky” is more reverent and hymn-like, expressing awe and deep emotion. Very much a piano piece, Bisharat and Levin add their own magic touches to take it soaring even higher. “We’ll Be Home Tomorrow” expresses a warm and excited anticipation at returning to the place we love best. “Slow Waltz at Summer’s End” is a favorite. A piano solo, it reminds me a bit of Erik Satie’s elegant simplicity and bittersweet emotional connection. This one really makes my fingers itch, so I hope it becomes available as sheet music at some point! The title track very effectively expresses the slow, peaceful movement of clouds in the sky contrasted with the majesty of the mountains. Piano, oboe, French horn and bass are hypnotic! “Finally Spring” is a buoyant dance of joy and celebration. “Warm Sun, Gentle Rain” is the second piano solo and is as delicate as its title suggests. The piano is especially well-suited to musical depictions of any kind of rain, and this piece is a lovely example of that. The third piano solo, “Stories Told by Trees,” is the closing track on the album. Very free and expressive, it is easy to imagine which trees are telling their stories and what they might be saying. Beautiful!
Solace of Mountains and Clouds is certain to be on my Favorites List for 2019 and is available from Amazon, iTunes and CD Baby as well as many streaming sites.
June 12, 2019
Review by Kathy Parsons