Just Piano 2
2016 / Kerry Barnes
Review by Kathy Parsons
Just Piano 2 is the second in a series of original solo piano recordings from British pianist/composer Kerry Barnes. Self-taught from an early age until she was in her late teens, Barnes went on to pass her Grade 7 and 8 Music Exams in a period of four months, and later earned several composing certifications as well. She now composes music for the Board Exams as well as for her own recordings and sheet music. More than 20 years ago, Barnes was diagnosed with Focal Dystonia, an incurable neurological condition that primarily affects the hands and fingers. It manifests itself by causing complete incoordination, and is also very painful. Given those limitations, it is more than impressive that Barnes continues to be driven to create and share her music. Although she works within a collection of basic patterns that her brain will allow her to play, Barnes’ music is not repetitive or simplistic. She has done extensive studies of Russian classical music and some of those influences are apparent in her original work. Just Piano 2 is dedicated to the memory of Barnes’ sister, Jane, who passed away last year from cancer. The music on the album ranges from bright and playful to expressing grief, and most of the sixteen pieces are classically structured and very melodic; they are also very expressive and colorful.
Just Piano 2 begins with “Pastures New,” a piece with a gracefully flowing left hand and a lovely, bittersweet melody that builds to a passionate middle section and then returns to the original melody - a beautiful start! “Latinopia” takes on a smoldering, exotic flavor that is quite different from Barnes’ other music - I like it! “Polish Dance” hints of Chopin’s elegance and emotional power without getting into his finger-twisting intricacies. “Sister’s Lament” was played at Kerry’s sister’s funeral, and although sadness is the underlying emotion, I sense many happy memories were interwoven throughout the piece. “Circles 2” is much more playful and carefree. “Perpetual Motion” is a favorite. Moving constantly, with frequent changes from major to minor keys and some effective deep bass accents that reverberate from the low end of the piano, it’s a fascinating study. “Christine” is a gorgeous expression of love from deep within. Graceful and very sincere, it’s a beauty! “Floral Notes” is so simple and so spare, but touches the heart with its honesty and openness. As the title suggests, “Poem Melancholia” is not about a happy experience, but the piece isn’t without hope. The last track is called “Just a Minute” and lasts for all of 51 seconds, ending the album playfully and with a grin.
What a happy discovery Kerry Barnes and her music have been! I have thoroughly enjoyed both Just Piano and Just Piano 2, and look forward to hearing more of what Ms Barnes has to offer! Just Piano 2 is available from Amazon and CD Baby. Check ‘em both out!
May 6, 2016