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Album Review: Rendezvous in Paris
Lena Natalia
Cover image of the album Rendezvous in Paris by Lena Natalia
Rendezvous in Paris
Lena Natalia
2016 / Atelier RLS
36 minutes
Review by Kathy Parsons
Rendezvous in Paris is the follow-up recording to pianist/composer Lena Natalia’s 2015 debut, Sundays in Paris. I have not heard the first album, but I really like this one! Sundays in Paris was awarded the Gold Medal for Best Album from the Global Music Awards in June of this year, so Lena Natalia is definitely an artist to keep your ears and eyes on! The Chicago native was classically-trained from the age of four and draws many of her inspirational themes from her everyday life in Paris as well as her extensive travels in Europe. She recently returned to the US after living in Paris for several years and it is interesting to note that Natalia went to Paris without knowing any French or anyone there. That experience forced her to listen to everyone and everything around her with an intense focus and “fresh ears.” She explains: “The ‘sound environment’ of Paris, coinciding with my learning French, inevitably changed my composing and the types of melodies I wanted to coax out of the keys. My compositions on this album are in effect, my attempt at translating the richness of my daily life there in terms that words cannot adequately express.” (quoted from an interview with Michael Diamond on www.MichaelDiamondMusic.com.) Natalia’s composing and playing styles have been called minimalist, but although the music is not overly embellished or flashy, it is substantial and very expressive. The twelve pieces on the album are all original piano solos.

Rendezvous in Paris begins with “Chiaroscuro,” a term that means “dark and light” and often refers to the dark and light patterns in paintings, drawings and photography. Built around a series of repeated patterns, the piece moves quickly without a clear sense of direction, simply fading out at the end - an intriguing start! “Quilts” has a much softer and more melodic tone over a flowing left hand. “Chaleur” is the French word for “heat,” which was apparently in very short supply during the winter months in Paris. You can almost hear in the melody “I am cold, I am cold,” although that may have been unintentional. “Harvest Moon” conveys a very calming and peaceful feeling with a lovely melody and a gentle left hand accompaniment. “Pont Neuf” is a favorite and refers to the oldest standing bridge (opened in 1607) across the river Seine. Natalia does a great job of expressing the weight of time and the many world events that the bridge has witnessed and withstood. “Alone at Twilight” is the sound of a musical soul alone in the evening, openly expressing her deepest thoughts - or just enjoying the solitude and playing from her heart. I really like the energy of “Midwinter Tea” and the range of emotions it expresses. “En Balade” (“having a walk”) brings this lovely album to a close.

Lena Natalia has created a lovely and personalized tour of Paris with these twelve piano solos! Rendezvous in Paris is available from www.LenaNatalia.com, Amazon, iTunes and CD Baby. Recommended!
September 18, 2016