BWW Review: David Lanz's Gorgeous FRENCH IMPRESSIONS
As the liner notes reveal, this collection by composer/pianist David Lanz sprang forth from improvisations that resulted during preparations for the NORWEGIAN RAIN album. By warming up with these spontaneous songs, he allowed their gentle influence to wash over the latter work's tracks. But, FRENCH IMPRESSIONS stands on its own. Moody, ambient, and full of contemplative themes, the new release (recorded in 2016, while temporarily residing at a French villa) is a stunning and soothing piece that is, indeed, impressionistic. And, like the famed painters who chose that style to work in, it possesses the same kind of feelings those painting inspire. I believe each individual that listens to these compositions will have an experience that is unique to them. Like all of Lanz's catalog, especially from the last few years, it's lovely from start to finish, filled with songs that are evocative and gorgeous. This is yet another stellar accomplishment from an artist who only seems to get better and better with age, much like a fine wine.
Lanz has an incomparable sense of dynamics and harmony when he creates on the piano, and from the opening track, "The Wandering Path," he sets a tone that is both striking and subdued, but never forgettable. "Conversation Avec les Etolies" follows the same approach, but travels down cascading runs that twinkle and shine as they lead the song toward an unresolved conclusion. "The River at Night" comes next, flowing smoothly like the water it represents, but with elegant strokes that give it a sense of the wonders of nature. As delicate as its title suggests, "Midnight Kiss" is melodically rich with possibilities, and a direct contrast to "Still Life #2, which interrupts its melody with moments of stillness played out as lingering chords that hang in the air.
"Love is Truth" is a great title, and the song itself is an insistent statement that's aurally suggestive without being overly aggressive. The runs that flow through "Maress de Matin" lead to quiet moments that seem to resolve and then open up again, while "French Blue," contains some slightly more majestic flourishes, and yet never strays from the established theme of the album. "Passages" is more melancholy, but just as beautiful, gliding smoothly into "As Dreams Dance," a song slightly more upbeat, but still stark and spare in execution. The title track, "French Impressions" is more thoughtful, sparkling at certain moments, but easily the most resolved and grounded piece here. "Prieres du Soir" generates a sense of longing and hope, as it brings the album to its conclusion.
David Lanz has once again delivered a masterwork of undeniable quality with FRENCH IMPRESSIONS, reflecting both his dedication to his craft, and his gift for portraying feeling through music. I've reviewed a number of his works in recent years, and each is a tribute to his remarkable talents. I highly recommend it!