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Album Review: A Seaside View
Suzanne Herman
Cover image of the album A Seaside View by Suzanne Herman
A Seaside View
Suzanne Herman
2023 / Suzanne Herman
40 minutes
Review by Kathy Parsons
A Seaside View is a collection of ten original solo piano works by pianist/composer Suzanne Herman. Inspired by the beautiful west coast of Florida near Tampa Bay, the music vividly describes favorite beaches, birds, bridges and other joys of living near the ocean. A longtime piano teacher as well as an internationally-acclaimed concert pianist, Suzanne's touch on the piano keys is elegant, graceful and very expressive. Most of the pieces are soothing and relaxing, as time by the ocean can be, but it also has its exciting moments. (I live on the Oregon Coast, so I find much to identify with in this music!) Those who don't have the opportunity for a lot of beach time will certainly get a good feel for what it's like by listening to this album!

Classified as a professional musician by the time she was 14, Suzanne earned a Bachelor of Music Degree in Piano Performance from the Oberlin Conservatory of Music and her Master of Music Degree in Piano Performance from Bowling Green State University. Proficient in a variety of music genres and styles including classical, sacred, jazz and contemporary solo piano, Suzanne has also served as the Director of Music and as an organist for many churches.

A Seaside View begins with "Path of the Sandpiper," a lively, graceful piece that beautifully describes the ebb and flow of a calm ocean tide while groups of small birds run in and out of the surf almost in formation. "Safety of an Inlet" describes a place of refuge when unexpected storms occur at sea. Sometimes on the dark side and sometimes very peaceful, the music tells quite a fascinating story without words. "Balcony Oasis" beautifully describes the respite of sitting on a seaside balcony watching the activity of the water, the wildlife, boats, birds, clouds, people walking along the shoreline, and more - a very "in-the-moment" experience that is never duplicated. "Dancing Lights" is a favorite. This lively piece was inspired by the lights on the Sunshine Skyway Bridge across Tampa Bay, the way they change colors and patterns on the water every night, and how the movement of the water creates the illusion that the lights are dancing on its surface. I love Suzanne's description of "Sandcastle Dreams":

Sandcastles come in all shapes and sizes. Some are true works of art with details of exquisite design and excellence. Of equal significance are those sandcastles created by children, while they laugh and play in the sunshine. The same can be said about hopes and dreams. Dreams can be big or small, consisting of different shapes and sizes. Many dreams are serious, detailing future endeavors, while other dreams are fun and involve play. Some dreams are in the process of being created, while other dreams never become reality, they get washed away with the waves.

The piece has a a very dreamy, wistful feeling - also a favorite. Most of "A Starfish Adventure" was composed in a 5/8 time signature in honor of a starfish and its five legs. It's a fascinating rhythm that has some measures of 3/4 mixed in. Is there anything more beautiful or relaxing than a sunset over the ocean? I doubt it, and Suzanne captures that peaceful feeling beautifully in "Sailing to a Sunset."

A Seaside View is available from Amazon, Apple Music/iTunes and streaming sites including Spotify. Very highly recommended! Three singles from the album were released in 2022 and 2023: "Path of the Sandpiper," "Dancing Lights," and "Sailing to a Sunset." A solo piano songbook of the complete album is also available in printed and PDF formats from Suzanne's website.
November 3, 2023