“Secret Garden” is the debut album from Monica Logani, a pianist, composer and amazing photographer. She classically trained in piano as a child but didn’t return to the instrument until well into adulthood. Initially inspired by a gardener who passed away, “Secret Garden” is comprised of twelve compositions spanning thirty-five minutes total. Monica is joined on various tracks by Gregg Zubowicz on vintage acoustic and electric guitar, Maria Grigg on violin and Lyudmila Kadybaeva on cello.

“The Gardener” opens swiftly with piano and violin which are soon joined by electric guitar. The album’s shortest composition, it makes for an uplifting and warm introduction. “Anthem” continues in this mode, where gently soulful guitar accompanies a bright piano melody, as string instruments provide softer textures in the background. Following it up is the more lullaby-like “Autumn Tale”, a piece led by a soothing piano melody that gently rises and falls throughout. “Starboard” is another highlight showcasing a lovely interweaving of piano, cello and violin, exemplifying the album’s more contemplative moments with its classical nuances and subtle hint of nostalgia. It precedes the nearly two-minute “Carousel,” a piece characterized by higher-register piano with accompanying violin that seemingly alludes to the carefree innocence and playfulness of a carousel ride. “Nonlinear Love” is another favorite composition in which piano and violin affectively convey a sense of both romance and longing. I’m especially fond of the interplay of two distinct paces within this tune, one moment cautiously slow, and the next, giving way to a faster galloping rhythm. Rounding out the album is “Between Two Wolds”, another noteworthy piece that opens with the sound of an unplugged electric guitar which deftly mimics that of an Indian sitar. A minor-key, almost gypsy-like piano melody lends an exotic and interesting flavor, as one might imagine a darkening sky signaling an approaching rainstorm.

Touching upon a variety of musical styles without negating her classical roots, Monica mostly extends a firm touch to the keys, displaying gently robust gestures within these delightful piano-centric compositions of heartfelt inspiration. Overall, “Secret Garden” is a uniquely enjoyable debut from this rising talent, and will likely be appreciated by many fans of neoclassical, contemporary instrumental and new age piano music. ~Candice Michelle

Buy this album: Amazon, iTunes, CDBaby

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