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Album Review: Second Steps
Rada Neal
Cover image of the album Second Steps by Rada Neal
Second Steps
Rada Neal
2004 / Rada
44 minutes
Review by Kathy Parsons
Second Steps is pianist/composer Rada Neal’s second CD, and is made up of original compositions played as piano solos with and without synth and accordion. The music is beautiful, with strong classical influences, and Ms Neal’s playing is strong and expressive. The piano sound on some of the tracks is the CD’s only weakness. I always feel a little disappointed when there is a gorgeous concert grand on the CD cover and then the piano sounds electronic. I know I’m a purist in that regard, and the untrained ear might not be able to tell the difference, but music of this high quality deserves a good acoustic piano.

The CD opens with “We’re Free,” an anthem that conveys feelings of relief and triumph. The melody line is so well-defined that lyrics could suit it well, although they aren’t at all needed. “A Solemn Beauty” has a lovely, gentle flow and a lighthearted mood. “An Irish Lass” is a charming dance-like piece that is carefree and swirling. “Remembering When” is much darker and more somber. The piece is almost conversational with a poignant theme in the upper treble and a repeated theme in the bass that alternate. Beautiful! “Tomorrow’s Dream” opens with synth and piano playing a lovely melancholy melody. The accordion comes in for a couple of stanzas, giving the piece an interesting French flavor. “Taken Away” has a feeling of tragic loss. This piece is incredible in its emotional depth - electronic strings are unnecessary when the pianist is this expressive. “Mystique” is another favorite. Bittersweet and haunting, it reminds me of waltzes from the Romantic period - perhaps some of Schubert’s poignant minor key pieces. “A Brave Journey” becomes determined and intense and clearly demonstrates Ms Neal’s considerable playing chops. “Summer Breeze” is as gentle as its title implies - warm and refreshing. “Another Place, Another Time” has a sense of sadness and regret. Deeply emotional and evocative, it goes right to the heart. “Lamenting” is despair set to music. Moments of hope are interspersed, but a feeling of tragedy prevails - a knockout of a piece. “Little Things” concludes the album on a much lighter note.

Rada Neal’s music is exceptional if you like piano music with a strong classical influence. For more about the artist, visit her site at pianopassions.com. Samples of her music are available there, as well as songbooks of her music. Second Steps is also available at CD Baby.
February 1, 2006
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