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Album Review: Our Mother
Ralph Zurmühle
Cover image of the album Our Mother by Ralph Zurmühle
Our Mother
Ralph Zurmühle
2007 / Ralph Zurmühle
69 minutes
Review by Kathy Parsons
I am just blown away by the quality of music that has been coming across my desk this year, and one of the best of the best is Ralph Zurmühle’s masterpiece, Our Mother. Swiss-born and classically-trained, pianist/composer Zurmühle now makes his home in Spain and also works in film and multimedia. An incredible pianist who understands the power of simplicity, Zurmühle conveys a wide range of emotions in these nine tracks, allowing open spaces to be almost as expressive as the notes themselves. Most of the music is on the melancholy and introspective side, with some of it achingly beautiful. Although his music doesn’t sound like other artists’ music, I would put Ralph Zurmühle in the same class of pianists as Michael Dulin, Robin Spielberg, David Lanz, and Michael Allen Harrison - artists who seem the most at home with their hands on a piano keyboard and who posses the playing skills to convey anything they wish to say in their music.

Our Mother begins with “Being There,” a gentle, graceful piece that is intimate and almost conversational. The quiet spaces between many of the notes resonate with feeling. If you aren’t hooked yet, try “The Wind At My Back,” which is lively, carefree, and one of my favorites. I love the spirit and dancelike quality of the piece and hope it is released as sheet music at some point! “Hymn” is more stately, but is also very prayerful, poignant, and deeply personal. There are two version of the title track. One is digitally orchestrated and the second is solo piano - both are compellingly gorgeous. While I was in the listening process of reviewing this CD, “Our Mother” kept causing me to stop what I was doing and listen with full attention. The melody line is so simple, yet so powerful. The piano version segues from the end of the synth version, continuing the piece with a different voice. “Horizon” is absolutely hypnotic, and that Zurmühle maintains a trancelike state for more than twenty minutes without becoming boring or repetitious says volumes about his artistry. The left hand plays a steady progression of three notes that rarely changes throughout the piece while the right hand tells the story, simply and directly, sometimes in the treble registers and sometimes crossed over into the bass. With the repetitious nature of this piece, I was amazed that it stayed fascinating over the nine times I listened to it. Don’t try to wake up to it, though! “David and Me” is also very spare and almost mournfully sad. At twelve minutes, it tells quite a story of great emotion and deep love. “The Return” is a lovely, elegant ballad that has a sweeping grace. The closing track is simply titled “A Melody.” This one reminds me a bit of David Lanz - thoughtful and fluid. What a great album!

Our Mother is available in digital and CD formats from ralphpiano.com, cdbaby.com, iTunes, and several other online sites. A true work of art, I give Our Mother my highest recommendation.
July 9, 2008
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