Dancing on the Wind is the second solo piano release from Shoshana Michel, following her debut, Soul Whispers
(2015). The first album is a collection of Shoshana’s arrangements of soothing Jewish songs known as Chabad Nigunim, but Dancing on the Wind consists of eleven original piano solos. I thoroughly enjoyed Soul Whispers
, but Dancing on the Wind is truly exceptional. The music isn’t flashy, but there is a lot of heart in each note and Shoshana’s expressive performance allows us get to know her better. Her playing style is graceful and confident yet often very tender and sometimes quite dramatic. Shoshana Michel recorded the album at Joe Bongiorno’s Piano Haven Studio on his Shigeru Kawai grand piano, and Bongiorno engineered and mastered the album. The sound quality of the piano is impeccable. Pianists will be happy to know that a companion songbook is on its way. PDFs of all of the pieces on the album are currently available from www.ShoshanaMusic.com
Dancing on the Wind begins with “When Leaves Dance,” a lively and bittersweet piece that has a swirling energy as it dances all over the piano keys. The very romantic “Heather, Roses and Moonlight” gently tugs at the heartstrings as it warms the soul. The title track dances lightly at the upper end of the piano with a delicate but determined energy. “Love Everlasting” begins in a poignant minor key, moves to a happier major key, and back to the minor, expressing a variety of emotions with the modality changes - a very beautiful piece that ends back in the major key (a happy ending!). “A Night of Lights” has some of the recognizable elements of traditional Jewish music, but also sounds like a music box since it is played mostly at the higher end of the piano. “Gently Flows the River Tranquil” is as peaceful as its title suggests. Played at a leisurely tempo this one really soothes the soul. “Wandering” is my favorite piece on the album. Its moderately propulsive left hand energy is infectious as the right hand explores the piano keyboard. I also really like “Dream’s Journey.” With its lively left hand pattern and compelling minor key melody, this one is my favorite to play (I proofed the sheet music book). “Quiet Valley” was written for Thad Fiscella, a fellow pianist/composer “whose music and kindness continue to inspire me.” (quoted from the liner notes). This lovely piece suggests open spaces and unspoiled nature and the peaceful feelings they evoke - a serene closing to an excellent album.
Dancing on the Wind has been nominated for Album of the Year on Whisperings Solo Piano Radio, and I’m sure that is just the beginning of the honors for this beautiful album. It is available from Amazon, iTunes, and CD. Very highly recommended!