2014 / Sonic Bear Music
Review by Kathy Parsons
Still is the fifth independent release from pianist/composer/multi-instrumentalist Stephen Peppos. After starting his music career playing keyboards and guitar in popular east coast cover bands, Peppos has built a very impressive body of original music used in television, commercial jingles, and music libraries all over the world in addition to his own recordings. Still is a collection of fifteen original piano-based pieces (several of which are solo piano) that invite the listener to take some quiet time to relax and reflect (while listening to this music, of course!). Because of the peaceful quality of the music, this is an album that is equally at home as music to get lost in as well as a soothing backdrop for other activities, such as reading, working, or driving. Some of the pieces are more orchestrated than others, but strings are the main addition to the piano. This is an emotionally-rich album that flows easily from one track to the next - quite possibly Peppos’ best work to date.
Still begins with “To Watch a Pond,” a mesmerizing piece for piano and strings. Effortless and blissful, Peppos beautifully describes the glassy surface of the water with an occasional burst of ripples or sparkles. “Silhouette” is a melancholy piano solo with just a hint of mystery. “Remembering” is a favorite. Melodic minor key arpeggios and strings (especially cello) evoke feelings of loss and sadness that really touch the heart. “The Essence Of” is a quietly passionate piano solo that feels introspective and possibly searching for answers - beautiful! The light, fluid “Butterfly” gently glides from place to place, stopping here and there to flutter its wings. In “The Ballet,” the piano and cello express heartbreak with soulful grace and great emotion - also a favorite. “Prelude Always” is all strings and very cinematic. That segues into “Always,” another favorite. Piano and strings build passion and intensity as the piece evolves. Often dark and mysterious, it’s a standout! As its title suggests, “Above the Clouds” is a light and dreamy duet for piano and cello that floats on air. “Tranquility” isn’t quite ambient, but the piano and cello flow so freely and easily that it comes close - very lovely and soothing. The title track comes last and is a quiet piece that is not without a pulse. The interesting left hand rhythm and uncomplicated right hand melody are graceful and magical, bringing this excellent album to a close.
Stephen Peppos is definitely one of the more interesting composers out there. MainlyPiano.com’s Michael Debbage refers to him as “the Indiana Jones of New Age music” with good reason! I expect this release to generate some major buzz! Highly recommended!
May 10, 2014
Review by Kathy Parsons