2021 / Optimistic Flamingo Music
Review by Kathy Parsons
Twelvemonth is pianist/composer Pam Asberry's sixth solo piano album to date and my favorite of her recordings so far. A life-long pianist and long-time piano instructor, Pam is a relative newby to the world of music composition, but once she opened the flood gates in 2017, there has been no let-up in the flow of new music from her. Lucky us! A collection of character pieces, Twelvemonth includes one piece created for each month of the year. Dedicated to Fanny Mendelssohn Hensel (1895-1847) and inspired by her song cycle, Das Jahr (The Year), Pam has succeeded well in finding specific musical characteristics for each month that are vivid, beautiful and easy to relate to. There is a companion solo piano songbook and it, too, is exceptional.
Twelvemonth begins with "Snow," the piece for January. Sometimes lively and sometimes more delicate and still, it beautifully reflects the sparkling quietude of gently falling snow and then speeds up to convey the movement of a heavier snowfall. "Romance" is a sweet old-fashioned love song-without-words that expresses that dancing-on-a-cloud feeling as well as tenderness and joy. "Wind" (March) is a favorite. I love the non-stop energy of this piece and the way it alternates between a strong swirling breeze to a much bigger and more threatening blow. "Awakening" is a sunny welcome to the new and renewed life that comes with spring. Warm, gentle and optimistic, it's sure to brighten anyone's day. "Maypole" is a bright, lighthearted piece that celebrates the European tradition of dancing around the maypole and wrapping it with colorful strips of cloth. "Processional" (June) is an elegant wedding march, but could be a contemporary graduation march as well. "Sparklers" is another favorite and expresses the thrill of watching fireworks on Independence Day. Both exciting and graceful, the piece makes it easy to visualize the brilliant colors streaming through the night sky and then gradually dimming and disappearing. "Peridot" was named for the green gem that is the primary birthstone for August and was written to "bring peace and light to all who hear it." "Lament" is another favorite and reminds me of some of David Lanz's more energetic pieces. The title refers to the melancholy feelings many people experience as winter approaches, and the swirling energy that runs through much of the piece could be a musical depiction of the fall winds that set leaves to flying before they drift to the ground. The "spooky" "Shadows" (October) is a delightfully mysterious piece that doesn't take itself too seriously. It's also a lot of fun to play! "Hymn" is a stately song of Thanksgiving for the month of November - uplifting and inspiring! The last piece, "Hope," expresses "hope for joy and peace at Christmastime and always." Warm, soothing and optimistic, it's a beautiful closing to a great album.
Twelvemonth is available from Amazon, Apple Music/iTunes, Bandcamp, and streaming sites such as Spotify. All of the tracks on the album are currently available as singles.
March 22, 2021