We have our share of grey days here in the upper reaches of North America at this time of year. The seat I’m writing in is normally drenched in afternoon sunlight. Not today. It is the kind of autumn day that sends pedestrians scurrying for oversized coffees and baked goods.
It is also the kind of day well-suited to Lena Natalia’s new recording Lonely Satellite. She caught our attention last year with a lovely new classical disc called Almost Home. Natalia is back with a perfectly timed follow-up.
Less minimalist than its predecessor, this collection of 15 short pieces is self-assuredly cool. Natalia has developed a reputation for producing confidently romantic work. At a time when serious new classical music tends to focus on more avant-garde styles, this is a bold choice.
She pulls it off with a neat, uncomplicated compositional style. Her work is tender, but never overwrought. It is emotional without a hint of melodrama.
In this respect the brevity of each of these pieces serves her well. The album’s longest, suitably titled “Gathering Clouds,” runs 4:18. Only two others stretch beyond three minutes.
Listeners familiar with her work may be surprised by a couple of offerings. “The Duel” and “On the Merry-Go-Round” are made more dramatic by the addition of synth lines. It’s the closest we’ve heard Natalia come to electronic music. Given her love of ambient work, perhaps these says something about what’s to come.
Otherwise, Natalia has delivered another recording she can be enormously proud of.