Works For Solo Piano composed by Eric Chapelle and performed by Michelle Schumann is a compelling collection of piano arrangements with emotionally charged moments, communicated articulately with the contrast of gentle moments. That juxtaposition leads to a diverse and engaging listening experience. Schumann breathes life into Chapelle's compositions, building on his work with her own style of smooth emotive finesse. The project feels both collaborative and true to her individual interpretation of his compositions.
The first track, Place in the Landscape, has this wonderfully diverse sound with high, ethereal attributes and deep bass. That contrast creates a beautiful tension, added to by moments of dissonance in the melody that ends up getting resolved. It’s a nice introduction to the style of the album, showing off the skilful piano playing from Schumann across the whole track.
First Light further utilises the balance between a high and low register to build a melancholic, liminal melody that shifts and changes as the track develops. This song also shows Chapelle isn’t afraid of quieter sections within his composition, trusting the listener with languid, quiet moments that allow them to reflect. Its quiet peace and liminal melody help to capture the sense of the first light in the morning and the intense silence that comes from that moment in time. In general, the album does a great job of connecting the titles thematically with the composition of the track in a way that doesn’t compromise the musical experience of each track or the album as a whole.
Another example of that is Leaves Falling. The track has a faster pace than some of the other songs on the album, filled with energy and a subtle sense of vibrancy though Schumann's performance. I feel this is to replicate the ebb and flow of leaves falling from trees as the wind blows. The ethereal high notes seem to represent the leaves falling.
Transformation is my favourite on the album. It uses dissonance to tell a story. The song begins feeling tonally confused. Every note doesn’t quite fit with the previous one. As the track goes on, it begins to sound more comfortable in its skin, eventually becoming less dissonant and more cohesive, perfectly describing a transformation. To me, this felt like it was about growing up. However, I think the power of this track is that everyone can understand their transformations through its lens.
Reflection No.1 and Nocturne No.1 both capture a conversational, meandering tone through their melody and rhythm. They tap into a vibrancy that feels like an honest train of thought. On Nocturne No.1, this technique evolved. The song feels as if the diverse registers are conversing with each other.
Works For Solo Piano captures deeply emotional moments that feel deeply personal but also universal. By only using a piano, Chapelle and Schumann allow us to each put our perspective on every song. It’s that thematic openness that makes this album so special.