is the second solo release from Stephan Moccio, an artist whose name might not be familiar, but whose music you’ve undoubtedly heard. He has collaborated with Celine Dion (“A New Day Has Come”), Sarah Brightman (“What You Never Know”), and Josh Groban (“My Heart Was Home Again”) to name only a very few, and he also composed “I Believe,” the theme of the 2010 Canadian Winter Olympics. In addition, Moccio’s 2006 solo recording debut Exposure is the highest-charting Canadian instrumental album ever. (It was also one of my top favorites for 2007.) Color
is mostly solo piano with a few of the twenty-nine tracks orchestrated, and it’s another stunning release from this exceptional artist. Several of the tracks are quite short and undoubtedly come from incidental music Moccio has composed for other media. These snippets are lovely preludes and postludes to the longer compositions. Much of the music reflects Moccio’s classical background as well as his experience in composing pop music, giving his pieces a distinctive yet very accessible style that gets richer with each listen. The majority of pieces are slow and spare, expressing a variety of emotions - a wonderful second effort!
I don’t have space to cover all of the highlights of the album, but I’ll tell you about some favorites. Color
begins with the lovely and evocative “Life,” a gentle piece for piano and orchestra that exudes warmth and contentment as well as a delicate strength. “PDG” is a two-part piano solo that is more ambient and a bit mysterious. Very slow and spare, the melancholy mood is poignant and touching. The dreamy “Canterbury” is graceful and flowing with a bittersweet edge. “Snow” is very still and open, conveying the absolute peacefulness of falling snow. In “Leopold,” the piano carries most of the graceful melody, while the orchestration fleshes it out and sweeps it heaven-ward. “Tristesse” conveys sadness and grief in a quiet, very personal way. “Violette” is the longest track at almost 5 1/2 minutes, so it has time to evolve and tell a more detailed story than many of the vignettes. Also orchestrated, it vividly depicts the graceful ebb and flow of natural movement. I love the solo, “Raffaele,” with its subtle rhythm and swirling motion. “Manolete” is one of my two top favorites on this album (it’s so hard to choose - a happy dilemma!). The steady rhythm and simple melody line create intensity and a sense of mystery mixed with a touch of dread. Love it! “Aqua” uses a female voice as an additional instrument, adding emotional impact and drama. “October,” the closing track, appears on Exposure as a piano solo, and this time it is orchestrated - a stunning piece in either version. This could very well become Moccio’s signature piece since it is so distinctive and powerful. A great way to end a great album!
Moccio has created a second masterpiece with Color
and it should go a long way in providing him with the name recognition he so richly deserves. Color
is available from stephanmoccio.com
and Amazon. Very highly recommended!