After fifteen CDs, pianist/composer Michael Hoppé has finally released a solo piano album! Unnecessarily humble and self-effacing about his piano technique, Hoppé’s previous albums had him performing his music with flautist Tim Wheater, cellist Martin Tillmann, or the Prague Symphony, or playing keyboards quietly behind the readings of various poets. A couple of solo piano concert tours in Korea helped Hoppé realize how emotionally affecting his music is in its purest state. Nine of the fifteen pieces have appeared on previous recordings, but not as piano solos. Hoppé’s soulful melodies and heartfelt playing make this a truly exceptional CD, full of love and tenderness that is so refreshing in this harsh world. I’ll keep my fingers crossed for more solo albums in the future!
The CD begins with “Beloved,” a piece that debuted on The Lover
and then appeared as a duet for piano and guitar on Hoppé’s Grammy-nominated Solace
. A gentle waltz that exudes the joys of love, it’s been one of my favorite Hoppé pieces for some time. “Prayer (For Dokdo)” is a newer piece that was composed in honor of two tiny islands off the coast of Korea that both the Koreans and Japanese claim as their own. With a surface area of only about fifty-six acres, it’s amazing that these islets have raised so much political turmoil for more than a hundred years. Hoppé composed this piece and released it in Korea, striking a nerve with the Korean people and creating a massive hit record in that country. Mournfully sad yet full of grace, this is another great piece. “The Parting” is an older piece that also appeared on “Solace” with Vangelis’ performance. As a piano solo, the poignant melody and deep emotion sing through and touch the heart. “The Unforgetting Heart” was the title track to Hoppé’s 1998 Real Music release. Graceful and soulful, it needs nothing more than a piano to get its message across. “Renouncement” is another favorite. Fluid and elegant, this is the stuff of daydreams. “Children’s Waltz” is playful and innocent - a bit livelier than the other pieces and much sunnier. I also really love “Moon Ghost Waltz,” a darkly mysterious dance that has a different energy than the other pieces. “Nostalgia” is very dark and introspective - significant memories set to music. “Sigh” closes the CD with a bittersweet farewell. Sigh...
Michael Hoppé has recorded a lot of my all-time favorite CDs, but I think this is my favorite of all. Who needs dazzling pianistic technique when he or she can put so much heart into the music? Check it out! Romances for Solo Piano
is available from michaelhoppe.com
, amazon.com, and most other music outlets. Very highly recommended!