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Songbook Review: Astra Perdita
Mark Robert Henderson
Cover image of the songbook Astra Perdita by Mark Robert Henderson
Astra Perdita
Mark Robert Henderson
2024 / Clever Little Rodents
10 pages / 4 songs
Review by Kathy Parsons
The Astra Perdita songbook contains the solo piano transcriptions for the four pieces from Mark Robert Henderson's 2024 album (EP) release by the same name. Subtitled "Four Piano Vignettes for Those Lost Exploring the Stars," the recording includes "found sounds" from the various space missions and clips of children's voices, but the songbook is the piano music only. Under the title of each piece is a short explanation of what inspired the music, which I'm sure many will find very helpful in getting a "feel" for what the music is expressing. Quoting Mark Henderson: "[The music] aims to be very ethereal and poignant as it commemorates four major space exploration tragedies: Soyuz 1, Soyuz 11, Challenger and Columbia." If I had to put this music into a single category, I would call it "Contemporary Classical," but it actually has elements of several different genres. Sometimes very dark and mournful and sometimes more powerful, there are even some light-hearted moments (but not many!). It's a very dramatic work, and Henderson gives a lot of insight into the music on his Facebook page. He is offering the songbook for free for those who sign up for his mailing list.

The music is not simple, but it isn't terribly difficult either. I would say that pianists at an upper-intermediate to early-advanced playing level should be able to master these pieces. Most of them are quite slow with a few rapid passages here and there. This is very expressive music, but might be beyond what most younger piano students can relate to. Adults and teens should find it enlightening and very interesting. And - hey! it's free from https://www.facebook.com/markhendersoncomposer!

The titles of the pieces, the key(s) they are in, and the number of pages are:

Soyuz 1 - Key of E (4 sharps) - 3 pages
Soyuz 11 - Key of E minor (1 sharp)/ F (1 flat)/ Eb (3 flats) - 1 page
Challenger - Key of C (0 sharps or flats) - 1 1/2 pages
Columbia - Key of G minor (2 flats) - 3 pages
February 10, 2024