Lena Natalia is a Chicago-based pianist and composer whose album, “Rendezvous in Paris”, is the follow-up to her debut release, “Sundays in Paris”. Classically trained since the age of four, she has stayed true to her classical roots, crafting original piano compositions within a more minimalist framework, also explored by the likes of Ludovico Einaudi, Nils Frahm and Philip Glass. Inspired by her time living in Paris before returning to the United States, the twelve compositions on “Rendezvous in Paris” are energetically imbued with a French mystique.

The appropriately named and breathtaking, “Chiaroscuro”, opens the album in minor key, possessing both a subtly romantic allure as well as a contemplative essence. The intricate, interlocking piano patterns of gently contrasting light and shadow are integral to Lena’s overall piano playing style, which is both richly vivid yet hauntingly obscure. Another one of my favorite pieces is “Chaleur”, meaning ‘heat’ in French, which showcases a mesmerizing juxtaposition of dual piano melodies played in the lower and higher registers. “Jusqu’au Bout”, which is French for ‘until the end’, is another especially moving composition that seems to hold its breath one moment and then exhale with riveting emotion the next, repeating this dynamic throughout the piece and elsewhere on the album. The gently sentimental and somewhat poignant “Alone at Twilight” is also particularly notable, conveying an essence of reflecting in solitude upon moments spent with someone significant, perhaps while taking an evening stroll along an old Parisian road. Likewise enchanting is “En balade”, which perfectly wraps up the album with an implicit sense of nostalgia and remembrance of eternally cherished moments.

“Rendezvous in Paris” is quite simply the most beautiful solo piano album I’ve heard in recent memory, standing out among a vast and ever-growing pool of solo piano albums. The compositions herein are rich and encompassing yet perfectly understated and uncluttered, seeming to flow effortlessly from Lena’s hands. Her emphasis on fluidity as opposed to bold strokes and clearly defined edges convey the aesthetic quality of an impressionist painting, where melodious movement beneath the surface is constant like the currents of the sea. This album is an absolute must-have for anyone who loves solo piano music; it will appeal, especially, to those who appreciate modern classical and minimalist styles of music in particular. ~Candice Michelle

Buy this Album: Bandcamp, CDBaby, Amazon, iTunes

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