Album Review of Piano Sanctuary by Masako

Masako is a pianist and composer who resides in the Northeastern part of the USA. Having begun piano lessons at the age of four, by the time she was five years old she was composing and singing her own tunes while up on a tree in the backyard of her parents’ home in Tokyo, Japan. Comprised of twelve solo piano compositions, Piano Sanctuary is Masako’s third studio album and first solo piano album, with all three having been produced by Will Ackerman and recorded at his Imaginary Road Studios in Vermont.

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Introducing the album is “When You Were Little”, which opens with a gentle simplicity. Soon transitioning into more melodically complex passages, the piece ultimately concludes with the gentle theme established at the beginning. Sitting among Masako’s most beloved compositions is “A Tale of Lonely Otter”, which originally appeared on her debut self-titled album, and likewise appears here as a solo piano rendition. One of my favorites on the album, this delicately heartfelt and somewhat wistful composition opens with a pacing that brings-to-mind Erik Satie’s famous classic, “Three Gymnopedies”. Other highlights include “The Land We Called Hope”, which features staccato notes in the upper range of the piano that beautifully beckon the listener’s attention, as well as “Frozen Quarry”, which is the second composition herein to have a Satie feel with its shifting tonal colors. Returning to familiar ground is the closing piece, “Tender Stories”, with its cascading notes in the bass register and twinkling notes in the upper register. Further showcasing a middle section that pleasingly reminds me of David Lanz’ fine “Song for Monet”, Masako’s touch on this piece is indeed quite tender.

A lovely album inspired by nature and landscape that’s infused with the personal touch of human life experiences, Masako seemingly imprints her thoughts and feelings, in combination with observations of the natural world around her, into a musical diary. Melodically bright yet inherently soothing with an airy, open feel, fans of Masako’s previous outputs will likely find this album to be another welcome addition to their collection! ~Candice Michelle

 

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