is the first of three solo piano albums released by Ralph Zurmühle since 2000. Swiss-born and classically-trained from a young age, Zurmühle possesses the playing skills to do whatever he wants at the keyboard, but generally prefers to keep it simple and deeply emotional - often much more difficult to do well than playing a flurry of notes for the sake of bravado. Most of the music is on the melancholy and contemplative side, creating a sonic environment for relaxation, thought, or just losing yourself in. I have only recently discovered the music of Ralph Zurmühle, and that discovery has been one of the high points in an exceptionally good year for contemporary instrumental music.
begins with a short prelude called “The Beacon” that sets a tone of quiet mystery - an intriguing opening that piques the interest. “Farewell” is an 8 1/2 minute piece that wears its heart on its sleeve. Some of the melody is played in the bass of the piano, giving an achingly beautiful effect similar to a cello. “I’ll Find You There” is an elegant and graceful musical promise that speaks gently but carries a lot of meaning. “Prayer In the Night” is one of my favorites. The repetitive bass line sets a consistent rhythm for the more improvised right hand and also creates an intense mood. This is one incredibly gorgeous piece. The mood lightens to almost playful in “Indian Child.” “The Goddess In My Dream” is a bit more classically-structured, yet is wistful in watercolor shades of color and delicacy. “Leaving Home” has the mixed emotions of a big step in life - anticipation and excitement intertwined with fear of the unknown. “An Improvisation For La Plana” is exquisite. A 13-minute improvisation, it is leisurely in pace but packed with passion. Very spare and uncluttered, this is music that comes from a place deep inside where only truths are spoken. When I hear something like this, I’m reminded of the stark difference between music that is assembled as “product” and when it is truly a work of art. “Lullaby For My Soul” is a bittersweet and oh so gentle little song that is at peace with the world - at least for now.
Ralph Zurmühle is a real find! To learn more about Ralph as well as his music, visit ralphpiano.com
. Samples of his music are also available at iTunes. Very highly recommended!