A Wild Beauty
2011 / Rhonda Mackert
"A Wild Beauty" is the second release by Seattle pianist Rhonda Mackert and was inspired by experiences she and her husband had on a cruise through Alaska. The fifteen piano solos are soothing and graceful, yet they convey a sense of wonder and awe. The album was recorded at Joe Bongiorno’s Piano Haven Studio, and the piano sound is warm, rich and crystal clear. Mackert’s song titles are descriptive, but her liner notes give an even better idea of where each piece came from; Matt Strieby’s always-excellent art direction completes a very lovely package.
The album begins with “You Beside Me,” which was inspired by a perfect moment when everything in the world seemed right. “Blissful” is the first word that comes to mind, but tenderness and feelings of love also sing through the notes. “First Light” is one of my favorites. It begins with only a few notes and a lot of sustain, creating a sense of vast openness and stillness. The tempo quickens a bit as the piece develops, but it maintains serenity and calm throughout. I also really like “Blue Ice,” which was inspired by glaciers and ice floes. It begins in the upper registers of the piano, bright and sparkling, and then becomes more dramatic, depicting the power of the moving ice. “A Quiet Day in Ketchikan” is tranquility set to music - pure contentment and grace. “A Wild Beauty” uses a bit of extra reverb (or pedal) to create a sense of atmosphere as well as open space. As the pace picks up, feelings of motion and excitement build and then return to the original theme - gorgeous! “On Silver Waters” gently glides with effortless motion, hypnotic in its peacefulness - another favorite. “Glacier Bay” and “Inside Passage” continue in a similar mood, each with its own magical story to tell. The lively and joyful “Bow Riders” was inspired by watching porpoises putting on a spontaneous show in the ship’s bow wake - a delight! “Solus” tells of watching a solitary grizzly bear looking for food along the shore. Poignant and touching with feelings of aloneness and perhaps loneliness, it’s a wonderful piece! “Night Song” closes the album with a composition about the dark, quiet beauty of the night at sea - a calm yet magical ending to an exceptional album!
If you are looking for some peaceful yet compelling solo piano music, this is a great choice! "A Wild Beauty" is available from www.rhondamackert.com, Amazon, iTunes, and CD Baby. Recommended!
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