Piano for My Soul
2022 / JoySpring Music
Review by Kathy Parsons
Piano for My Soul is the sixteenth album from pianist/composer Peggy Duquesnel, but I have to admit that it's the first of her music that I've heard. A combination of piano orchestrations (13) and piano solos (8), the album is built around Peggy's love for combining hymns with classical music. Accompaniment features piano, organ, woodwinds, and cello along with digital orchestration. The eight piano solos are also featured on the album with orchestration and the album runs a full 71 minutes!
Quoting Peggy Duquesnel: "I recorded a lot of the album during the lockdown and was happy to have the extra time to work in my studio. Many of the arrangements on Piano for My Soul were inspired by my classical background. They also incorporate my gift of combining a hymn with a classical theme to create a new and moving piece of music. A lightbulb or divine inspiration sometimes comes upon me when I'm practicing, and I get new ideas on bringing two different music pieces together." In addition to the music, each piece on the album will be accompanied by the release of a nature video created in partnership with Peggy and Gary Hanson of CreationScapes.
Based in Southern CA, Peggy is a pianist, vocalist, composer, arranger, producer, record label owner, and a professor of jazz studies at Concordia University. She has recorded collections of jazz, pop, inspirational and classical music, and has performed and/or recorded with artists that include Henry Mancini, Dionne Warwick, Pat Boone, Jeff Lorber and John Patitucci - quite a varied lot!
There are too many tracks to comment on all of them, but I'll mention some highlights. The album begins with "Be Still My Soul / Finlandia" by Sibelius (both pieces have the same melody). The piano stays in the lead on this one, with strings, harp and oboe providing a gentle, graceful backdrop. This lovely arrangement is also one of the piano solos. "Praise God From Whom All Blessings Flow" (Doxology) is paired with JS Bach's 2-Part Invention #13 (also a piano solo) and has a bigger, more symphonic orchestration - I really like both versions of this one! "A Lullaby" is an original piece by Peggy and was inspired by the birth of her grandson - a very sweet and loving welcome! "O the Deep, Deep Love of Jesus" is one of my favorite hymn melodies, and Peggy pairs it with a Chopin Waltz (Op. 34, #2) - both very dark and haunting and also both orchestrated and solo on the album. (I can't wait for the solo sheet music for this one!) A delightful surprise is "Cristo Redentor," a duet for piano and organ (Andre Mayeux). The piece was featured in the Disney/Pixar film, Soul, and is slow, bluesy and very soulful - a great duet! Another interesting surprise is "Holy God We Praise Thy Name" combined with "Sous le dome epais" by Delibes. If that title doesn't sound familiar, it is the operatic melody Yanni based his "Aria" on. Two pianos (the late Steve Hall is the second) and orchestra send this piece soaring heavenward! "Bach Prelude in C/ The Lord's Prayer" is a gorgeous cello and piano duet with Peggy playing the prelude on the piano and Melissa Hasin playing "The Lord's Prayer" on cello. Another really imaginative pairing is "You Are My Hiding Place" with the theme from Tchaikovsy's "Swan Lake" for two pianos (also Steve Hall) and orchestra - gorgeous!
Piano for My Soul is music for everyone's soul! There is also a five-song sheet music book called Piano for My Soul, Vol. 1 available from Peggy's website and SheetMusicPlus.com. The album is available as a CD or a download from Peggy's site and Amazon, and as a digital download and to stream from Apple Music/iTunes and sites like Spotify. Check it out!
May 15, 2022