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Album Review: Pianissimo III
Suzanne Ciani
Cover image of the album Pianissimo III by Suzanne Ciani
Pianissimo III
Suzanne Ciani
2001 / Seventh Wave
60 minutes
Review by Kathy Parsons
Pianissimo III is the third in a series of albums by Suzanne Ciani which are made up of solo piano versions of previously recorded and orchestrated music as well as several (in this case three) new pieces. “P3” contains some of my all-time favorite Ciani pieces such as “Sogno Agitato”, “Butterflies”, “Turning”, “The Fifth Wave”, and “Full Moon Sonata” - all of these are wonderful! Of the three new pieces, “Celtic Nights” is by far my favorite. There are classic Ciani touches, but this piece is a departure for her, at least for her solo piano work. It is exotic, very minor, and has some haunting deep bass accents that give it some punch. “Celtic Nights” makes my fingers itch since it is one of the few pieces in the collection that isn’t in print (yet). I love it! “Pretend” is a sad song about the “afterimage of someone gone”. It is easy to imagine Suzanne sitting at her piano late at night, letting this song be born of recent loss. While not wrenching, the emotions are powerful. “4 O’Clock in the Morning” is the third new piece, and tells about the exact time Ciani wakes up whenever something is bothering her. This piece is less structured and more abstract, and is a fascinating musical description of that time between sleep and tossing around, trying to let your mind settle back into restfulness.

An interesting little tidbit is that when Suzanne’s “Dream Suite” album came out in 1994, I wrote to her to tell her how much I loved “Sogno Agitato” and how I hoped it would be in her next songbook. She patiently explained to me that she had written that piece as an orchestral work, and really couldn’t see it as a solo piece at all. She did a workshop for my students not long after that, and I requested that she play “Sogno Agitato”. She explained to the group that it wasn’t written as a solo, but she would play what she had played with the orchestra. It was wonderful!!!! I bugged her several more times about wanting to be able to play that piece, and was absolutely delighted when she included it in her “Turning” songbook. It has gone on to become a favorite of my more advanced students, and it was a thrill to have one of my students play “Sogno Agitato” for Suzanne last fall.

A few of the other of the fifteen pieces in this collection are not what I would call all-time favorites. However, most of the songs are excellent, and some are great, so I strongly recommend Pianissimo III!
January 1, 2001