2024 / Shoshana Michel Music
Review by Kathy Parsons
Storyteller is Shoshana Michel's seventh solo piano album beginning with her 2015 debut, Soul Whispers. Some of the thirteen tracks (all originals) were composed recently and some were written earlier but not recorded until this album. Recorded at Joe Bongiorno's Piano Haven Studio on his amazing Shigeru Kawai concert grand piano, the music is warm, gentle and often has an expressive dreamy quality that makes it very relaxing and uplifting. The music was inspired by and reflects different facets of Shoshana's life, as well as her emotions, people she has known and a variety of memories. Some of the pieces feel very light and carefree and some are more bittersweet, but they are all very beautiful, personal and expressive. Printed and PDF songbooks as well as PDF downloads of single pieces are available from Shoshana's website. I also reviewed the songbook.
Storyteller begins with "A Winter's Enchantment," much of which is played at the upper end of the piano keyboard, giving it a bright, sparkling sound as Shoshana's fingers dance around on the keys - a beautiful beginning! "Periwinkle" feels much like the fluttering of a butterfly's wings as it moves from flower to flower - graceful, light-hearted and completely charming! The first couple of chords of "Prelude" make me think of Chopin, who composed many preludes, but then it's all Shoshana. Haunting and deeply emotional, it's one of my favorites. "Strolling Along the Strand with Dad" feels very relaxed and effortless as well as nostalgic - reflections and memories recalled with love. "Snowdrops" is another favorite. Quick and played at the upper end of the piano, the piece really sparkles as it suggests gorgeous images of an icy winter landscape. From snow, we go directly to the playful and carefree "Summer Nights." "The Time Traveler" feels a bit mysterious and magical - what would we find if we went back or forward in time? "Joyful Remembrance" is more nostalgic than giddy, reflecting that sometimes our happiest memories make us cry when we allow ourselves to fully revisit them. The gently-flowing "Starlight and Crystal Dreams (Frida's Lullaby)" is wonderfully soothing and relaxing for "kids" of any age. The easy, rolling broken chords on the left hand perfectly support the sweet melody played at the high end of the piano - hypnotic and magical. "The Enchantment" is something of a theme and variations with a quick but easy flow. "A Song for Clara" first appeared on Shoshana's 2022 Mélange album. This time, the piano isn't felted and Shoshana changed the format a bit. For this new album, she titled it "A Song For Clara (Revisited)." It's a quiet but lighthearted waltz and a lovely close to the album.
Storyteller is available now as a CD as well as a download from Shoshana's website. The sheet music and songbook are also available from her site. The album can also be streamed or downloaded from Amazon and Apple Music/iTunes, and is on many streaming platforms including Spotify.
February 12, 2024