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Album Review: Candescence
Nick Davis
Cover image of the album Candescence by Nick Davis
Nick Davis
2006 / Nick Davis
44 minutes
Review by Kathy Parsons
Candescence is Australian composer/pianist Nick Davis’ most ambitious project to date, and the most classical. Using West Quantum Leap Symphonic Orchestra sample library and the PMI Bosendorfer 290 piano library, Davis has created a big symphonic sound that is quite realistic. All of the ten tracks include piano, and one is solo piano. Although the music is contemporary, it is very classical in structure with lots of strings and brass, and a stately, elegant style. Davis succeeds in melding traditional musical structure and stylings with cutting edge technology. It will be interesting to see how the CD is received by the more staid classical purists who often don’t like change and the new age listeners who are often looking for music that is quiet and soothing. Some of the tracks are peaceful, but others are big and cinematic - militaristic, even. I find Candescence to be most enjoyable.

The CD opens with “Forever More,” a joyous piece that includes piano and a whopping seventy other instruments, most of which are strings. Carefree and sprightly, this piece feels like springtime set to music. “Flight To Freedom” begins with an impressive piano solo that conveys a sense of urgency. Woodwinds and brass enter, adding drama as the piano continues its runs, leading the way. I like this one a lot. I love “In My Heart,” which scales the instrumentation down to piano, violin, cello, and flute. Cello and piano is one of my favorite combinations anyway, and this piece is just gorgeous. The melody is haunting in its simplicity and the chamber group is the perfect way to express the deep emotion of the piece. “Yearning” was first recorded on Davis’ 2003 release, “Eclipse.” Returning to the full symphony and piano, this very expressive piece would work well as a soundtrack. “A Lover’s Lament” also has a very cinematic symphonic sweep. The piano is very prominent in this piece, making it kind of a one-movement concerto. “Return of the Brave” is like a welcome home for military troops of an earlier era. Triumphant and proud, the percussion, brass, and piccolo paint a vivid picture. “Lullaby For Madeline” is a tender and delicate piano solo reminiscent of Mozart and Haydn. “The Fallen” is perhaps the biggest and most sweeping of the compositions, and evokes feelings of both tragedy and determination. The eighty-piece orchestra fills the room, and then backs away to let the piano speak. An intense and powerful work, this is a piece that will never sit in the background.

Candescence is quite an amazing musical achievement that I hope will bring Nick Davis the recognition he deserves. It is available from www.nickdavismusic.com. Recommended to those who appreciate the scope of a full symphonic orchestra and who enjoy music from the Classical and Romantic eras.
April 28, 2006
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