Even For A Moment
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Heart Dance Records pianist and composer Gary Schmidt brings us his second release Even For a Moment, featuring 12 new originally composed piano solos along with two classical selections. with some tracks featuring a single compliment instrument. Gary's music focuses on the melodic and meditative, a unique blend of romanticism, classical, and minimalism. Gary's music has been describing as music that speaks directly to the heart, hence the album descriptor of "Piano For The Soul".
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The album opens with “If This Is the Time,” its sweet, lyrical melody balanced by a buoyant left hand accompaniment. Cellist Hannah Alkire joins Schmidt on “Inside This River,” reflective, almost melancholy melody twisting and turning over the upper registers of the piano. The mood shifts in the middle section - the romantic melody and buoyant accompaniment is reminiscent of a romantic barcarolle – which is followed by a brief return to the opening theme ending on a somber note. And in the third track, “Face That Lights My Face” Schmidt teams with his brother, Roger Schmidt, on acoustic guitar; the two instruments blend perfectly in joyful harmony.
“A Train Leaves the City,” its rich, resonant bass contrasting with a tinkling melody in the upper register, beautifully captures that feeling when someone beloved must leave you despite your wishes to the contrary. Flutist Sherry Finzer joins Schmidt in “The Breath At Dawn,” featuring an ostinato bass left hand and a delightful interplay between the eloquent right hand melody and the deep, rich flute. There is nothing that creates greater anticipation and sense of well-being than the soft light of predawn on a cloudless morning and this piece captures those feelings perfectly.
There are two classical tracks on the album; the first, Handel’s “Minuet in G minor” (arranged by Wilhelm Kempf) is a Baroque delight. In this performance, Schmidt’s classical sensitivities are evident. At the age of six, after hearing a classical piano recording owned by his mom, he declared to his parents that he would be a pianist when he grew up and proceeded to teach himself how to play. At age fourteen, without any formal training, he won third prize in the prestigious Jeunesses Musicales piano competition in Quebec, after which he began formal studies. Most impressive!
“Even for a Moment” is a favorite. Once again, Schmidt is joined by cellist Hannah Alkire; the sparkling melody of the piano contrasting superbly with the rich depths of the cello in a way that is almost conversational. In “Sub Tide,” combining forces again with his brother on the guitar, Schmidt creates an impressionist style painting of being underwater. “Simply By Looking” is another exquisite collaboration between piano and cello as is “The Light Seems to Move.” Another sound painting, this one alternates between flashes of bright light, then steady moving light not so bright, then strange diffuse lights illuminating clouds. “Crescent Light,” a little gem of a piano solo, is the perfect follow-up.
Schmidt collaborates with flutist Sherry Finzer again in “No Better Gift.” Simple but splendid, is another favorite. I have always felt that Samuel Barber’s “Adagio for Strings” is one of the most transcendent pieces of music ever written and this ethereal arrangement for solo piano by Wilhelm Kempf and its heartfelt performance by Schmidt do not disappoint. The finale, “Postlude to a Moment” brings a gentle conclusion to an album filled with beautiful moments.
Schmidt believes his life’s mission is “enhancing life through music” and this passion and spirit shines through in every piece on this album. Very highly recommended!
Born and raised in rural Quebec, Gary Schmidt decided at the age of six that he was going to be a pianist when he grew up. Since piano lessons were unavailable in his area, Gary taught himself to play by listening to classical piano music and following the scores. He received extensive formal training in college and has had a full-time career in music for more than thirty years as a teacher, performer and writer. He has performed in Canada, the US, Europe and Mexico. Gary is also an award-winning songwriter.
"Even For a Moment" begins with “If This Is the Time,” a gentle and relaxed piano solo with a dreamy lilt - a very nice opener! “Inside This River” is one of my favorites. It begins as a bittersweet piano solo, becoming a piano and cello duet. The cello’s dark tones add drama and weight to this gorgeous piece as it weaves in and out of the piano’s themes. Classically-influenced with contemporary stylings, it’s a beauty! “Face That Lights My Face” is a sweet love song for piano and guitar. Simple and from the heart is always a winning combination! “The Breath At Dawn” is a fascinating duet for piano and bass flute. As peaceful as an early-morning sky, the softly-rolling chords on the piano and the earthy flute soothe away any stress or tension! One of the two classical pieces is Kempff’s solo piano arrangement of Handel’s “Menuet in Gm.” Elegant yet poignant and haunting, I’ll be looking for this arrangement! The title track is a much lighter and livelier piano and cello duet. “Crescent Light” is a warm and dreamy piano solo likely to bring a smile of contentment. “The Light Seems to Move,” a sparkling ambient piece for piano and cello, clearly shows Schmidt’s technical abilities as well as his emotive side. Cello colorations that are both bowed and pizzicato (plucked) add even more brilliance to the piece. “No Better Gift” is another favorite, this time for piano and flute. Wistful and happy, it would be a wonderful closing to a sentimental movie as the credits roll! The second classical piece is Barber’s “Adagio For Strings,” arranged for solo piano by Rosen. It’s different from Schmidt’s originals, but fits in beautifully. “Postlude To a Moment” brings this excellent album to a quiet close - a gentle “so long for now.”
"Even For a Moment" is likely to bring a musical breath of fresh air to anyone who hears it! Both thumbs up!