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Album Review: Impressions
Shoshana Michel
Cover image of the album Impressions by Shoshana Michel
Shoshana Michel
2020 / Shoshana Michel
54 minutes
Review by Kathy Parsons
Impressions is Shoshana Michel’s fifth solo piano album and although I’ve reviewed and enjoyed all of her music, there is something very special about this album. The music feels exceptionally intimate and heartfelt and is expressed with a tangible openness and vulnerability - like a soul-opening conversation with a treasured and trusted friend. There are no flashy keyboard pyrotechnics to hide behind, just the beautiful essence of each piece. Shoshana explains: “The music from Impressions was born out of reflection and inspiration. Some of the compositions from this album reflect the different emotions, thoughts and feelings that I have recently experienced, while others were inspired by music and those that composed it; the classical music that I listened to growing up, the New Age solo pianists that I discovered in the early 1990’s, and the contemporary solo, neo-classical and minimalistic pianists that motivate and inspire me today.” Recorded at Piano Haven Studio on Joe Bongiorno’s incredible Shigeru Kawai grand piano, the piano sound is flawless; the album was also engineered and mastered by Bongiorno. Even the cover artwork by Mark Briscoe is worth mentioning. Shoshana was looking for some Impressionistic piano paintings and found this one, which strongly resembles Van Gogh’s post-Impressionistic style - perfect!

Impressions begins with “Imagination,” a beautifully-flowing piece in a dreamy yet melancholy style. Gentle and very free, it’s a wonderful opener! “Dancing in the Shadows” was composed after a series of events that left Shoshana feeling excluded and alone. As she was composing the music, she envisioned herself in a flowing white dress, dancing in the shadows as she listened to the music, conversations and laughter coming from another room. The emotional intensity flows from the heart of the composer to the heart of the listener - an incredible piece of music! “Quietly, Gently, Peacefully” is a sweet and tender lullaby suitable for “children” of any age. “Loneliness” was inspired by some of the classical music Shoshana learned when she took piano lessons - poignant and deeply emotional. “Joyful Moments” breaks the somber mood with a lively and lighthearted dance for joy. About “Pierrot”: “After I wrote this composition, it brought to my mind a Pierrot, graceful with his sad white-painted face, loose white costume, and black hat.” Melancholy with just a touch of whimsy, I can see him, too. “Prelude in E Minor” is another favorite. Composed in a style similar to JS Bach’s, I hear some influence from Chopin, as well. Darkly stirring, it’s gorgeous! My favorite piece on the album is “Nocturne in E Flat,” which was inspired by both the Romantic and Minimalist genres. Graceful and deeply affecting, this is one of those pieces that makes my fingers itch to play it. (And the good news is that a companion sheet music collection is available!) In music, an elegy is a piece of music composed to honor someone’s death, and this one “is a somber piece reflecting losing a ‘family member’, whether human, furry or feathered.” The album closes with the lighter yet gently bittersweet “Long Ago and Far Away,” adding nostalgic to the variety of colorful emotions expressed on this great album.

Impressions is available from ShoshanaMusic.com, Amazon, iTunes and CD Baby as well as several streaming sites. The sheet music and songbook are also available from ShoshanaMusic.com and SheetMusicPlus.com. Great stuff!
February 14, 2020
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