Not many musicians in any genre come with such extensive credentials or musical genes, but Clara Ponty fully lives up to both. I've been listening to some great albums, but The Embrace rises to the top in its musical complexity, integrity, and pure artistry. Trained to compete as a classical pianist on an international level, Clara has always been surrounded with some of the top musicians in the world (obviously including her father, renowned jazz violinist Jon-Luc Ponty). Although leaning to the classical side, Clara is able to seamlessly incorporate her many influences into a contemporary statement all her own. I love Clara's first album, but found it difficult to get into at first (well-worth the patience to gain access, though!). The Embrace is much more accessible, but is in no way commercial. The complexity remains, but this new album is somehow more open on the first listen and then continues to reveal itself with time and repeated hearings. Clara attributes this to drawing from within in an "expressionist" mode rather than the more external "impressionism". A very interesting addition on The Embrace is the use of Clara's voice as another musical instrument. There are no lyrics, and the vocals add warmth and a very feminine touch. Each track on The Embrace is a gem, and each is uniquely itself. Clara's amazing piano technique shines through on each piece, and she is joined by a fascinating combination of musicians and instruments including cello, ney flute, cloud organ, 36 string zither, bouzouki, etc. It's difficult to single out any favorites from such a strong collection, but "Pierrot"'s rhythm and simple melody are hypnotic; the solo piano on "Rapture" swoops and soars; and the sweetness and innocence of "Les Berceaux (The Cradles)" are captivating. A treasure from start to finish, I give The Embrace my highest recommendation.
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Kathy Parsons (kathypiano)
I have been a private piano teacher since 1981. I have been writing reviews for a long time, and have my own review and interview site, MainlyPiano.com. I teach piano in person and online, so now I can … more
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A bit of an airy-fairy tinkly-twinkly affair, Clara Ponty'sThe Embraceis nourishment for the gentle soul. Yet as with her father,Jean-Luc, renowned electric-violin fusionist, the younger Ponty bases much of her piano stylings on jazzy themes of repetition married with complex rhythmic structures and classical signatures. The title cut, for example, features acoustic six-string guitar, cello, cloud organ, and "ambient sounds" along with Ponty's elegant piano trilling. "Echo" begins with aboriginal-sounding flute and percussion, whereas "Les Berceaux (The Cradles)" is an Old World ethereal lullaby featuring angelic vocals by the Knoop Children's Choir. Ponty's rich tones caper with the vibration of a 36-string zither on "Spirit Dancer," and the composer's own softly distressed vocals blend with African-inspired percussion for an exotic mix on "Lasting Peace." On the closing "Bridge of Clear Light," her piano melody floats and saunters above it all.--Paige La Grone