We’re witnessing in the recent years that most of the composers of melodic music are using the piano as a tool for exalting simple, delicate and elegant melodies, leaving far away the virtuosity and the harmonious complexities of the past, that are basically those characteristics which have made the piano – for many years – to be regarded as the prince of the instruments. I can’t say how much of this clear trend is the result of a precise stylistic choice of the artists rather than the result of a general reduction of the ability to listen to and concentrate on music.
In any case, in the great mass of works of little value which don’t show any respect for the listeners’ ability to interpret music, there are still some compositions that stand out for their ability to go beyond the easy melodies and the simplicity of the arrangements. These albums, unlike the others, use simplicity and minimalism as a mean of transmitting emotions and passion, and not the purpose itself of composing music (as is often the case with mediocre artists).
I’m presenting here the best three works of the year that are built around the concept of minimalism and piano music. Despite the essentiality of their musical structures, these albums leave a deep trace in the soul, a sort of afterglow of tenderness, class and elegance that remains with us after turning off the music player.
Joep Beving, Prehension
The story of Joep Beving testifies the impact that social media and modern streaming services may have on the success (and sometimes the failure) of a new artists. This Dutch musician recorded some of the original piano tunes that he used to play for his family, distributed them online, and eventually sparked a stratospheric interest from hundreds of thousands of Spotify subscribers. At that point, contended by a number of record companies, he released this year a second record, Prehension, which confirmed the class and talent of the artist.
The style of Joep Beving follows the successful stream of modern classical and contemplative piano music, but just because of the fact that this genres begins to be definitely inflated, to emerge from the mass becomes even more difficult. The short compositions collected in Prehension reach the magical point of equilibrium where accessibility of the melodies matches with class and style. All the musical attributes of Bevings’ compositions float in that delicate balance between minimalism and delicacy where every additional element would make the sounds redudant, but anything less than that would compromise pleasure and smoothness of the songs.
I call it ‘simple music for complex emotions. The world is a hectic place right now and I feel a deep urge to reconnect on a basic human level with people in general. Music as our universal language has the power to unite (J. Beving)
Daigo Hanada, Ichiru
Daigo Hanada is a young and talented Japanese pianist and composer, born in Tokyo but based in Berlin. Hanada released on last February a little masterpiece, named Ichiru, where he plays delicate and minimalistic melodies on a simple upright piano. The album contains a collection of relatively short but deeply captivating piano moments (intimate vignettes), which collectively show how sometimes the simplicity of arrangement and the immediacy of the melodies may generate an immediate connection between the author and the listener.
This is definitely one of the most lovely albums we heard so far in 2017.
Each melody is warmly inviting and instantly memorable while an impeccably restrained touch and minimalistic aesthetic ensures the sentiment never becomes too saccharine. In fact, the more one listens, the more comforting it becomes like a late-night conversation with an old friend. (Stationary Travels)
Akira Kosemura, In the Dark Woods
Japanese composer Akira Koseumura has recently reached the important milestone of 10 years of well-regarded career in modern classical music. In such time he has achieved a respected position in the music scene because of his ability to mesh together minimal tunes played on the piano with field recordings, other acoustic instruments and also electronic soundscapes. Kosemura’s music has always been extremely delicate, some call it “sparse”, and according to many more suitable for a musical background rather than made for deep and concentrated listening. Personally, I’ve always appreciated his style, which represents for me a magical way to flee into a serene world, free from all those complications and problems of our everyday life
Kosemura’s last album, In The Dark Woods, maintains all the typical features of his music and it contains a beautiful collection of intimate and delicate pieces, most of them playing aroung a few simple piano tunes. The LP is focused on the concept of finding comfort in the darkness and it is maybe one of the most introspective works the Japanes arthist made so far.