"Our world is busy enough. Listen to music that will restore you!"
Landscapes Of The Heart
Reviewed by Darla Bower
This is the fourth album of composer/pianist Gary Schmidt and was produced by Will Ackerman and Tom Eaton. The CD includes other talented instrumentalists as well. As the title suggests, this CD will touch and draw landscapes on your heart while contemplating these lovely piano-based meditations. Gary is a self-taught pianist who later studied piano at both Tyndale College and the Royal Conservatory of Music in Toronto. Though he currently resides in Colorado, he grew up in Quebec, Canada. The album is compiled of eleven original pieces by Gary and two pieces by Erik Satie – Gnossienne no. 1 and no. 5. The clean lines and dynamic playing by this pianist are expressed beautifully in Landscapes of the Heart.
Landscapes of the Heart opens with The Beauty We Love. This composition is very expressive. With Eugene Friesen on cello, this piece is a reflective and delightful blend of piano and cello. I love the combination of both instruments. When the Silence Speaks is both a gentle and poetic melody. I found this song to be soothing; creating a meditative calm with the gentle ending fading into silence. One of my favorites on this CD. Reaching into Romance speaks of a sweet embrace and melodically reflects the innocence of romance. The expectation of a romantic embrace building in the piece reminding us that romance speaks musically. Waltz in 2/4 ended up being one of my favorites on the album. Most waltzes are in 3/4, so I listened to this waltz with expectation of delight and it did not disappoint with its creative mixing of 2/4 and 3/4 measures. I love the combination of piano and violin. Charlie Bisharat on violin lends to the sweetness of this waltz. Loved this polished waltz, well done!
A Blanket of White was another favorite on the album. This piano solo is enveloping and its cascading melody reminds me of the quiet beauty of fallen snow. The peaceful, white snow falling in the stillness of this musical escapade. The melody lending to a beautiful landscape in your mind. Loved it! You Already Have Wings is a delightful trio of piano, with Will Ackerman on guitar and Jill Haley on English horn. The melody left me with a bright feeling and ready to fly on a new journey. I ended up liking the repeating melody, with the other musicians playing over the piano part. Found the combination both interesting and unexpected. Loved both the Gnossienne pieces by Satie. Eric Satie it turns out is Will Ackerman’s hero classical composer. Gary plays both of these pieces with very expressive dynamics and clean polished lines. I loved the swelling crescendo in piece no. 1 and the expressive dynamics on no. 5. A “wow” moment in listening. Both of these songs are played as written and draw the listener in. What a perfect pairing to feature both no. 1 and no. 5. These two are my absolute favorites on Landscapes of the Heart.
The next track Restless is very aptly titled. This piece is in contrast to the other pieces though the Satie pairing sets the stage for the melancholic expressiveness of this gem. With Jill Haley on English horn, Restless is a melodic lament seeking rest, leaving the listener desiring more. I loved the ending of this piece! Solus boasts a sweet and inviting melody closing out the meditative landscape of this piano and instrumental delight. The ending in the upper register cajoles the listener into peaceful melodic reverie. I absolutely loved the ending and loved this piece. Ended up being another favorite on the album! This album promised piano-based meditations and delivers this expectation masterfully and musically. I highly recommend Landscapes of the Heart! For more information on this talented composer, please visit Gary’s website at -www.apianist.com. This beautiful album is available on his website, Amazon, CD Baby and iTunes.
Enlightened Piano Radio – Darla Bower