I’ve been listening for so many years and I still get excited by the music written and performed by Chilly Gonzales, the canadian pianist, composer and entertainer who has contributed to the revival of the modern classical genre. As an amateur pianist I also learned some of the songs from his two previous albums for solo piano and therefore my expectations for his new work were literally skyrocketing. And from the moment when I could eventually get my hands on his new LP, it plays almost uninterruptedly in my music player.
Solo Piano III is the third collection of short instrumental pieces for piano that has been released so far by Gonzales, who also declared that the new album will be the last chapter of his Solo Piano project. Some of the thirteen tracks of the record – probably the most beautiful ones – were already shared by the author a few months before the official release of the album, and this has somewhat mitigated the surprise effect. Anyway, being Solo Piano III the third installment of a cycle that Gonzales started as early as 2004, it was certainly not the surprise that what we were looking for in the new record, bur rather the confirmation of the ability of such an incredible and histrionic artist to compose pieces that are so pure and delicate to become, in the end, timeless.
A lot has already been said about the uniqueness of Gonzales’ musical style and the naturalness which he shows in writing music that it’s “classical” in structure and feeling, but which brings inside a modern sensibility and also a “popular” approach to piano music (the Erik Satie of our times, someone said about Gonzales). What we can say is that the last chapter of the trilogy doesn’t depart from the sounds and the style that we already heard in the initial two albums of the project and, as a matter of fact, a few tracks seem taken directly from the previous works from the author. Some difference, rather, can be found in the overall architecture of the album. If the first two “Solo Piano” records were characterized by a lightness and an overall fluidity that made each one of them appear like one single flow of cristalline beauty, the new album seems to proceed a little more intermittently. It looks like Gonzales is now trying to persuade the listener to focus the attention on the individual pieces and the specific characteristics of each song. Compared to the hundreds of piano collections that today are popular on Spotify and other platforms, here there is an attention to the details that requires the listener to stay focused on each single song, a capacity that perhaps many have lost in these times when we are literally bombarded with music that is easy to listen to and without any depth. Let’s say then that if “Solo Piano III” still remains a nice and delicated album that you can play in the background during a rainy day or when you’re in front of the fireplace, for those who are keen and capable to listen carefully there is an additional dimension that is mostly due by the uniqueness of each single piece of the collection.
There is a little less accessibility in Solo Piano III with respect to his first two works, but in return we have more incentives to go deep into the dynamics of the individual songs. This partially compensates for the lack of novelty and surprise, I mean in comparison with the reactions that were generated by the first chapter of the project. That said, however, the overall value and enjoyability of the album remains very high and at this point we feel only the relative sadness due to the fact that – if the author will keep his promise – there won’t be a further follow-up to this wonderful and unique musical project.
Solo Piano III completes the Solo Piano trilogy. Like any final act, there are complications and consequences, followed by an urgent race to the finish line. Like its predecessors, it’s a mostly happy ending in C major, but there is more dissonance, tension and ambiguity along the way. The musical purity of Solo Piano III is not an antidote for our times, it is a reflection of all the beauty and ugliness around us. (from the artist’s webpage)
Solo Piano III is available for streaming on Spotify.