Heidi Breyer 2015
A story of two lovers divided, as told by ivories and fleshed out by their guests.
Three critically acclaimed albums in, this New Jerseyan Brit-born pianist decided to go for a recital, or a concept cycle, about two people who, being oceans apart, kept their love alive before getting together for ever. A metaphor and a drama, the variety of moods the tale evokes might be a daunting task to deliver with only one instrument; that’s why possibly, once the solo playing was done if not dusted, Heidi felt it would be nice to bring additional colors to her black-and-white daguerreotype. So, in order to broaden a palette, Breyer brought a small but distinguished ensemble into the studio whence emerged a double-CD set, a dual version of it all.
Save for the spare closer “Starry Pond” that runs longer than the original cut thanks to a fresh chamber quartet interplay in the heart of it, here’s basically the same piano line on each of the discs, yet though, laid bare, the chords reveal heightened subtleties, the core melodies feel emotionally richer when strings and brass weave in between the keystrokes. As a result, the elegiac, and dynamic, depth of “All the Good Things” is fathomed with a horn leading a second tune, while the woodwind elevates the Chopinesque expressiveness of “Small Cafe.” But if “Old Photograph” comes to life in the most traditional, classically speaking, way, especially when a plaintive violin wails over it, the similar cry makes the folk traditionalism of “Scarborough Fair” gain a grand aching solemnity.
Yet “Welton” blossoms on brisk terms, given the guitar of the album’s co-producer Will Ackerman, the Windham Hill founder, and there’s a game on this record, too, as “1960” slyly hints at “Für Elise” before Grammy-winner Eugene Friesen’s cello anchors the fingers flight to mundane affairs. The heavenly sound is there as well, lurking in the crystal heights of “Touchstone,” whereas the title composition’s lower tone is bound to move to tears the hardest cynic out there. That’s what a missive from your loved ones is supposed to do – we’re all vulnerable after all – and in Heidi Breyer we have a sensitive messenger.