RebeccaK.com  

Reviews

UPSTREAM
REBECCA KRAGNES
2005

Reviewed by
John Iverson, Host / Producer
Shades of Classics
Campus/Community Radio CKUW 95.9 FM
Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada

Upstream, the fourth release by Minneapolis new age pianist Rebecca Kragnes, continues her tradition of heartfelt solo piano music. As was the case with her previous album Surrender, all the tracks except one are her own original compositions, and once again she has revealed to us a very personal approach to life through her music. Varying tempos, colours and textures lead you through the many ups and downs of Rebecca's life, but never does she lose sight of the positive things. She effortlessly makes full use of the piano's ability to express thoughts and emotions through sound, and the results are not only pleasing to the ear, but to the soul as well.

Having followed Rebecca's musical career since her first album Golden, I can honestly say that this is definitely her best album thus far. She has matured into a fine pianist, and her music has become deep-rooted in the heartfelt tradition. It should come as no surprise that she has modeled herself in many ways after the great new age pianist David Lanz, who has once again provided her with valuable suggestions and expert guidance in his capacity as Executive Producer. Yet while she performs in much the same style as David does, her music is still very much her own, and a true reflection of her character.

So if you are a lover of solo piano music with feeling, then this is an album you will want to add to your collection. The thirteen tracks presented will stimulate your senses and tantalize your emotions. So take the time to be transcended "Upstream" by Rebecca Kragnes. It will be a wonderful journey!


Upstream: A Time of Transcendence
Rebecca Kragnes
2005/Kaleidoglow Productions
54:00

Reviewed by
Kathy Parsons,
MainlyPiano.com

"Upstream" is Rebecca Kragnes’ fourth solo piano album to date, and this artist just keeps getting better. It has been a turbulent three years since Kragnes’ last recording, and the music from this new collection is sort of a musical journal, expressing and reflecting on many of the events of that period, giving them a mostly upbeat and positive spin. Kragnes has a very gentle and delicate playing style with most of her music, and quite a bit of it is played on the upper half of the piano, creating a lighthearted and sunny mood. David Lanz returns as Executive Producer, and his influence can be detected but isn’t obvious.

The opening track, "Time Piece," is an interesting variation on the Westminster Chimes played on a clock given to the artist by her husband. That familiar little tune starts the piece, and then Kragnes develops it into a sweet composition that is light and airy. The only cover piece is Seal’s "Kiss From a Rose," one of Kragnes’ favorite pop tunes from the ‘90s, and a lovely arrangement. "Facing the Music" is somewhat darker, and was written while reflecting on the shooting death of a young member of her church by gang members and how things that used to be other people’s concerns can affect us personally. "Memories of First Love" is also very reflective and gentle with a warm and loving mood - one of my favorites on this album. "God Bless The World" is a hymn asking God to bless the whole world rather than specific areas. Lyrics could fit very well, as the piece is very much an anthem. The title track was composed during the recovery period after being hit by a car and working her way through the pain in her shoulder. It is a joyful piece now, having finally arrived "upstream" — another favorite. I also really like "Winds of Change," which has an infectious energy and a slightly mysterious feeling. Bigger and more powerful than most of the other tracks, this piece has a real passion about it. "Humor" is a dancing celebration of the healing power of laughter. Light and breezy, this is joy set to music. My favorite piece on this album is the closing track, "Calling," which is a duet for piano and flute. Michael Malver’s flute brings an incredible emotional depth to this gorgeous piece, which was based on the "song" of church bells and was composed in a "call and response" style. The purity of this piece is stunning, and this is probably my favorite of all of Kragnes’ compositions so far.

"Upstream" was well worth the wait between albums! It is available from www.rebeccak.com and cdbaby.com.

Recommended.

© copyright 2005 | RebeccaK@RebeccaK.com | all rights reserved