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Album Review: Breathing Space
Paul Sylvan
Cover image of the album Breathing Space by Paul Sylvan
Breathing Space
Paul Sylvan
2010 / Paul Sylvan Music
55 minutes
Review by Kathy Parsons
The first thing you notice about Paul Sylvan’s new album Breathing Space is the stunningly beautiful cover artwork by Charles Barrington. Inside the liner notes is the quote, “Music is within us all but we must find the space to hear it.” Intrigued, I started exploring Paul Sylvan’s website and discovered that he grew up in the South of England and attended The London College of Music, where he studied piano and started composing. He later established a piano restoration business in Sussex and continued to compose. Realizing the therapeutic value of music, Sylvan received a government grant and established a music therapy center, working primarily with people with special needs. Wanting to step back from the fast pace of life, Sylvan and his wife packed a tent and their bicycles and took 3 1/2 years to see the world. When they returned to England in 2006, they outfitted a large river barge and loaded on their music equipment. They now live on the rivers and canals of rural England. What an inspiring story!

Breathing Space is Sylvan’s fourth album of original music and contains sixteen gentle orchestrations with and without piano. Many of the titles are nature-inspired and most of the music is very quiet and serene. This is wonderful music to relax with or to have as a musical backdrop. I only wish the piano was acoustic, but that’s a small point with such lovely orchestrations.

The album begins with the very peaceful “Sun Rising,” written for piano, flutes, and strings, and which sets the tone and mood of the CD. “Standing Still” is very slow and graceful in its stillness. “Rainy Day” is a slightly melancholy daydream and a favorite. “Wondering” also has a very dreamy quality but the tone is much warmer. “The Churchyard” begins with the sound of church bells, and then flute and strings create a mood of solitude and perhaps loss. It’s a very haunting piece that would be wonderful in a movie soundtrack. The title track is my favorite. It begins as a piano solo with light string accompaniment. The strings swell as the piece evolves, but the piano stays in the foreground. The mood is pensive, on the dark side, and often passionate. What a beauty! “The Hinterland” suggests bitter cold and isolation and yet remains gorgeous. “Another Time” is a lovely, wistful piano solo. The closing track, “The Gloaming,” refers to the twilight time between sunset and dark. Peace and contentment fill the piece and end the album with a sigh.

Breathing Space is available from paulsylvanmusic.com, Amazon, iTunes, and CD Baby. Check it out!
October 23, 2010