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Album Review: Ardor
Matthew Mayer
Cover image of the album Ardor by Matthew Mayer
Matthew Mayer
2017 / Matthew Mayer
42 minutes
Review by Kathy Parsons
Webster’s Dictionary defines “ardor” as “emotional warmth; passion; eagerness; enthusiasm.” The term comes from the Latin word for “a flame or fire.” That pretty much sums up the music on Matthew Mayer’s excellent eleventh album, Ardor, a collection of twelve original piano solos that explore emotional intensity on a variety of levels and from varied sources of inspiration. All twelve pieces are colorful, expressive and beautifully performed.

In addition to composing and recording his own music, Mayer is the founder and owner of SoloPiano.com, a website and internet radio station with a roster of more than three hundred piano artists from around the world. Earlier this year, Mayer received a Silver Outstanding Achievement Award from the Global Music Awards and he has consistently been a Top 20 Instrumental Artist on ReverbNation’s National Charts. His music has been featured in commercials as well as in a film titled Earthwork. Mayer started taking piano lessons at the age of 12 and released his first album, Crossing the Bridge, in 1999 at the age of 20.

Ardor begins with “Stars On 123,” a heartfelt piece that expresses deep longing with poignance and grace. I really liked Mayer’s previous release, Art, so my expectations were very high for this album. Even so, this piece grabbed me right away (I love when that happens!). The title tune is more than achingly beautiful. The simplicity of the piece seems to make it even more emotionally direct and sincere. “Source of Blue” begins with a short but ominous introduction, and the main theme seems to express profound loneliness and loss. I’m very curious about where the title for “Shoe Strings” comes from, but the piece is positively giddy with joyful excitement. “Disappear It May” seems to be a cautionary tale of an unpleasant possibility in the not-too-distant future. Told simply and with sincere emotion, the tone is very mournful. “A Kindled Soul” goes even darker and more turbulent with very effective use of the deep bass of the piano for tonal color - a favorite. “Moonlight Walk” feels very much like a late-night walk to sort things out in solitude - hauntingly beautiful and also a favorite. I really like the flowing quality of “Escape” and how the energy level increases as the piece unfolds. “Dreams VI” returns to a softer, more wistful style with no edges or boundaries. “We Met Once” brings the album to a close with a gentle love song that looks back to the very beginning of an important relationship and perhaps what life was like before that meeting. Tender and very beautiful, it’s a lovely close to an exceptional album.

Ardor, like its predecessor, Art, has been a joy to review and is a very likely candidate for my Favorites list for 2017. It is available from www.MatthewMayer.com, Amazon, iTunes and CD Baby. Highly recommended!
October 31, 2017
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