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Album Review: Phoenix
William Ogmundson
Cover image of the album Phoenix by William Ogmundson
Phoenix
William Ogmundson
2016 / William Ogmundson
43 minutes
Review by Kathy Parsons
There are many very versatile pianist/composers in the world today, but William Ogmundson is truly exceptional! I was extremely impressed when I saw him perform at this year’s Whisperings Solo Piano Radio “Discovery” concert and was amazed that even though I was familiar with his name, I’d never heard his music. I recently reviewed his 2018 release, Simple Gifts, which is one of my favorite albums of the year. After that, I reviewed his 2010 Ragtime album and was once again blown away. Those three encounters with Ogmundson’s music only moderately prepared me for the delightful surprise of his 2016 release, Phoenix. This spectacular album is made up of thirteen original compositions that alternate between quiet elegance and much bigger, bolder compositions. All are performed on piano, but several tracks feature Ogmundson on a Hammond B3 organ, orchestra bells, marimba, woodblocks and wine glasses. In addition to his six recordings, Ogmundson is an EMMY-nominated composer and lyricist and has written numerous musical scores for the stage and television. He has been performing since he was five and has played in venues throughout North America and Europe. Ogmundson also has a large selection of videos on YouTube that clearly demonstrate what an amazing pianist/composer he truly is.

Phoenix begins with “Diabolical Development,” a playful and dramatic piece with a catchy Latin rhythm. There is a little Hammond organ in this one, but it’s mostly piano. “Heather’s Processional” is the music Ogmundson’s wife walked to for their wedding. Stately without being stiff, the composer was obviously writing his ultimate love song (without words). “Piranha” cranks up the intensity with an ominous tone that doesn’t take itself too seriously. There’s even a little boogie-woogie in the middle of the piece! Are you hooked yet? “Walking On H2O” is smooth and graceful with some organ and choral voices added to the piano - very classical. “Pip’s Delight” starts out with a Hammond organ and piano duet and then the piano takes over with a light and fanciful theme that joyfully dances around the keyboard until the organ re-enters at the end. As the title suggests, “Full Moon On Snow” is very peaceful and calm, and was created in a more classical style. The first theme in “Cosmic Spider” is downright spooky, but the second theme has an elegant flow that is quite beautiful. “Maypole” mixes piano with organ and harpsichord in a Baroque/Celtic mash-up that really works! “Seduction” is light and fun with accents here and there played by tapping on wine glasses. The title track is a story told with changing themes and musical styles. The bright and effervescent “Joy Everlasting” includes woodblocks for percussion, bells, and keyboard as well as piano. “Johnny’s Prelude” was originally written for the Northern New England Repertory Theater Company. The first half is quite dark with a droning organ note behind the piano. The second half is a complete change of mood with a lighthearted ragtime piano solo that dances all over the piano. “Red Sky At Morning” is by far that longest piece on the album at over six minutes, and is breathtaking from start to finish. It starts out serenely, but then builds as stormy turbulence takes over, tossing around everything in its wake. The piece returns to a calmer theme and gradually gathers momentum to a stormy climax, calming to the end. Wow!

I am so excited to have found William Ogmundson and his music! If you haven’t already, you should check them out ASAP! Phoenix is available from www.WilliamOgmundson.com, Amazon, iTunes and CD Baby.
November 7, 2018
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