2022 / Shoshana Michel Music
Review by Kathy Parsons
Mélange is a beautiful collection of nine original piano solos by Shoshana Michel and is her sixth (plus singles) solo piano album to date. Recorded on a felted upright piano, the poignant and dreamy pieces take on a softer, more ethereal sound than they would if the piano was "normal" or "unfelted." (If you are not familiar with "felted piano," it is a technique where a piece of felt or other soft cloth is placed between the piano strings and hammers to lessen the percussive quality of the hammers hitting the strings when the keys are played.) All nine of the pieces have been released as singles. The full album is available digitally and CDs are available from Shoshana's website. I have been reviewing Shoshana's albums since her 2015 debut, Soul Whispers, and her music never disappoints! I also need to mention the stunning album artwork by Danielle Sarah Nieman-Storch - very beautifully done!
Mélange begins with "Floating," a gently melancholy piece that sets the tone of the album. The slightly mysterious feeling in the music really draws you in. "A Song For Clara" is much lighter, with a graceful waltz-like rhythm and a wistful, dreamy feeling. As the title suggests, "Looking for Light in the Darkness" expresses feelings of searching and seeking, not sure where to turn, but not losing hope. The ethereal piano sound really brings out those impressions (for me!). "Valse Musette" is a beautiful minor-key waltz with a very free tempo that gives it a dreamy, bittersweet feeling - one of my favorites. "As Twilight Falls" is almost magical and is also a minor key waltz. There is just enough percussive sound from the piano to suggest the twinkling stars as they emerge in the darkening sky without affecting the peaceful mood of the piece. Love it! "Cinema" is the last single to be released from the album and is also a favorite. It would be perfect for the closing credits of an emotionally powerful movie with its changing themes and compelling expression. I would go as far as to say that this is one of my favorites of all of Shoshana's pieces - not just on this album. "Blue Ballerina" could refer to the color of a dancer's costume or her mood, dancing, perhaps alone, to work through those emotions. (This piece always makes me think of a close-up photo I took years ago of a of a pastel blue iris and its delicate, graceful shapes.) "Awaiting the Calmness" begins with a very melancholy feeling that gradually lightens and becomes more hopeful - quietly soulful and introspective. "A Love Story" would also be great in a poignant and emotional film/movie. Reflective and very sad, I get the feeling that this is a look back over happier times - a very meaningful close for a great album!
Downloads and CDs are available from Shoshana's website. The album is also available digitally from Amazon and Apple Music/iTunes as well as streaming sites including Spotify. Fellow pianists will be happy to know that the digital songbook and the sheet music for all nine tracks are available now from Shoshana's website as well as SheetMusicPlus.com and SheetMusicDirect.com. Printed songbooks will become available mid-December.
December 1, 2022