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Album Review: Pianoscapes for the Trails of North America
Laura Sullivan
Cover image of the album Pianoscapes for the Trails of North America by Laura Sullivan
Pianoscapes for the Trails of North America
Laura Sullivan
2004 / Delvian Records
49 minutes
Review by Kathy Parsons
Pianoscapes for the Trails of North America is a mostly upbeat follow-up to Laura Sullivan’s 2003 indie-release, “Piano Solos.” Accompanied by guitar, violin, cello, and keyboards, Sullivan takes us on a musical tour of several of the scenic trails of North America. Pianist Zola Van has released two albums to date that chronicle backpacking trips on two specific trails, but this CD takes us all across the US and Canada. Along with the CD, the album comes with a paper tree that has blue spruce seeds embedded in it, inviting us to “Buy a CD and plant a tree.” Planting instructions are included. Fifty cents from the sale of each CD will be donated to The National Arbor Day Foundation.

The piano is the star on the ten tracks, with the accompanying instruments adding color and nuance. All of the tracks are original with the exception of Sullivan’s arrangement of Pachelbel’s “Canon in D” (“Pachelbel For the Potomac”). Much of Sullivan’s previous album was very dark and moody, but, in general, Pianoscapes is much more optimistic and paints a beautiful portrait of “the great outdoors.” “Mountain Magic” was composed for the Appalachian National Scenic Trail, and has a swirling, joyful feeling even though the melody is bittersweet; Chris Camozzi adds some tasty guitar work. Two pieces were dedicated to the Continental Divide National Scenic Trail: “Sunrise on Cloud Palace” and “Sunset on Cloud Palace.” The first is very light and “sparkly” and the second is much darker - both are beautiful. “From the Sea to Sapphire Sea” is another favorite - serene and flowing piano with string washes. I also really like “Witches Slow Dance,” a dark, baroque-ish piece that is dedicated to the Natches Trace Trail. Much of the history of the area is mysterious and melancholy, and that is very effectively reflected in the music. Laura Sullivan has assembled a very impressive package with Pianoscapes. It is both classical and contemporary, sometimes complex, but always accessible. Laura Sullivan has a flowing playing style, and most of her pieces are quite melodic. A very enjoyable choice!

Pianoscapes for the Trails of North America is available from delvianrecords.com, www.bn.com, and www.amazon.com. Samples are available at laura-sullivan.com.
April 9, 2004
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