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Album Review: Petits Reves Bizarres XIII-XXIV
Milana Zilnik and Stephan Beneking
Cover image of the album Petits Reves Bizarres XIII-XXIV by Milana Zilnik and Stephan Beneking
Petits Reves Bizarres XIII-XXIV
Milana Zilnik and Stephan Beneking
2013 / Milana
54 minutes
Review by Kathy Parsons
Petits Reves Bizarres XIII-XXIV (Strange Little Dreams) is the second half of a recent collaboration with Canadian composer/pianist Milana and Berlin composer Stephan Beneking, who wrote this music in 2011. Milana plays each of the pieces as written and then improvises, expanding these wonderful themes into stunning longer-form pieces. Classically-structured and melodic, this collection will be a treat for classical music buffs as well as new age and contemporary classical fans. Bottom line - this is simply great music without having to classify it. This is Milana’s fourth release this year - this one, the first half of the Beneking collaboration, an album of original piano solos called Filling the Emptiness, and a vocal album of original songs called Just Loved - and so far all three piano albums are on my list of favorite albums for 2013.

Each original piece is one-three pages in length and it is interesting to note that Beneking does not include any tempo, dynamics or pedal markings in his sheet music, allowing each pianist to develop his or her own understanding of the work and making each interpretation a unique collaboration of composer and pianist. Beneking offers all of his piano sheet music for free on his website (beneking.com). I plan to use some of this music with my piano students because it is so expressive and evocative yet not terribly difficult to play.

The album begins with #13, a mysterious piece that reminds me of some of Mendelssohn’s darker Songs Without Words. #14 is a bit more akin to a Chopin prelude, and Milana’s improvisation is very fluid and dreamy. #16 has a simple but very lovely melody that Milana takes to lofty heights with her interpretation. #17 is dark, dramatic and very moody - one of my favorites. I also really like the gentle grace of #18 and the stately majesty of #19. The haunting #20 is my favorite on the album. The longest of the original pieces, at a total of six minutes it is also the longest of the improvisations, with plenty of time to evolve and explore the emotional impact of this powerful music. #21 is lighter and more fanciful while the poignant #22 aches with longing and possibly loss. The more up-tempo #24 brings this exceptional album to a stirring conclusion.

Milana is becoming one of my favorite artists, so if classical music with a contemporary flavor sounds appealing, be sure to check out Petits Reves Bizarres XIII-XXIV (and her other albums!)!!! It is available from milana.ws, Amazon, and iTunes. Very highly recommended!
October 1, 2013
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