Various Artists – Piano Cloud Series Volume 4

piano cloudGently played solo piano recordings have long served as a gateway drug for nascent classical music fans. They’re often a sufficiently easy listen as to be accessible, while at the same time offering listeners a welcome degree of sophistication.

Plenty of ambient music fans have been drawn to the classics via the likes of Harold Budd (ironic, given his decision early on to leave classical music behind). Same goes for pop music fans turned on by players like Elton John and Keith Emerson.

Arguably, music is most powerful when it inspires an audience to dig into other styles and genres. The great pianists demonstrate this time and again.

It’s why 1631 Recordings’ series of solo piano collections has such extraordinary potential. The label’s fourth release under the Piano Cloud Series title furthers the Swedish imprint’s reputation for exquisite new classical music. These 18 short pieces are world class.

You’ll recognize many of the names: Akira Kosemura, Oskar Schuster, The Album Leaf, Sophie Hutchings, Tim Linghaus, Balmorhea and Jakob Lindhagen among them. But every one of the album’s 57 minutes is pure delight.

The talent pool 1631 has access to runs deep enough that it’s not difficult to imagine this series continuing for many more releases. I hope it does. When all is said and done, the label and its wonderful artists will have produced an extraordinary thing – a warm invitation to new classical music.

Kevin Press

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