II is the second album by pianist and composer, Andy Iorio, who debuted with After the Rain in 2010. Comprised of twelve compositions having one word titles, each capturing a mood, moment or emotional expression, the album features a mix of both piano and strings courtesy of Matthew Johnson on violin and viola, as well as solo piano pieces throughout.

“Opening” is carried along by a brisk piano melody underscored by viola, which are eventually joined by violin in a sorrowful serenade. Seemingly inspired by another era, the piece bears notable neoclassical signatures along with a bit of a gothic semblance. Continuing in this mode is “Burn”, which likewise exudes a certain cinematic quality that brings to mind an old black and white film. “Descent” follows next and is easily my favorite composition herein. Characterized by hauntingly ubiquitous chord progressions in which suspended strings hover above a flowing piano melody that repeatedly rises and falls throughout, the mood of the piece almost feels a bit noir, bringing to mind images of passer-byers on cobblestone streets of an old city. The waltzing “Silhouettes” is among a handful of solo piano compositions of which are generally less forlorn than those accompanied by strings. Whereas the album’s piano ensemble pieces skew more towards the melancholic and neoclassical, their solo piano counterparts possess more contemporary melodies that are comparatively brighter and more sentimental. The final piece, “Closing”, opens with an encroaching fog of strings that soon introduce somewhat languid piano notes and a flute-like instrument. An extended pause of silence occupies the middle part of the track, before revealing a hidden solo piano piece towards it’s seemingly daybreak conclusion.

Capturing an elegant balance of shadow and light, Andy Iorio has demonstrated a keen ability to convey often dramatic emotional expressions within a generally subtle and perfectly understated musical framework. Overall solemn and purposeful with lighter moments of hope interspersed throughout, II is a superbly crafted album that will appeal, especially, to many fans of Phillip Glass, Ludovico Einaudi and piano-based soundtrack music! ~Candice Michelle

Links & Purchase: Amazon, iTunes, CDBaby, Andy Iorio

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