Album Review: Castle In The Sky/ Charody/ Nguyen

Composer Chloé Charody’s new album Castle in the Sky is an anthology of her compositions for solo piano, performed by Australian-Vietnamese pianist, Van-Anh Nguyen. Released to coincide with Valentines’s Day, it is a dreamy collection of ten tracks which have a distinctly Impressionistic aesthetic.

Charody’s gift is her ability to paint pictures with music. The themes she has chosen for the items in this anthology lend themselves beautifully to her style of writing. Freewheeling melodies, teasing tempi, wistful phrasing and resonant arpeggiated baselines give voice to intimacy and quiet introspection.

Van-Anh Nguyen’s technique is light, bright and flexible, but also gives full voice to the more dramatic moments as in A Faraway Land.

The opening track, Pas De Deux is a lilting waltz enriched with cross rhythms which waxes and wanes, optimising the range of the keyboard. Castle in the Sky is a Debussyesque painting of a castle that might rise from its rocky foundation to veil its spires behind clouds in the sky.

Mrs Dorothy Dormouse is a languid cameo of this sleepy creature which spends long periods in hibernation, punctuated by a moment of busyness. Weeping willow starts in imitative style, drawing a willow tree swaying gracefully in the breeze, breaking into some unexpected tonalities at the end.

Butterfly Ball has an Oriental sense to it, bursting forth with modal chords flitting above a rippling base. Funeral March is wistful without being sombre, elaborated by a freely rising melody. Octavia’s Lullaby, the cascading Secret Waterfall, A Faraway Land – perhaps the most dramatic in the collection – and Snow is Sleeping, round out the collection.

Chloé Charody (b1984) is a polymath composer, producer, entrepreneur and educator who works across genres, creating entertainment in circus form, ballet- opera and a daring concerto for aerial fire-taming-violin-virtuoso and fire-taming acrobatic orchestra, Tale of The Firebird, written for Sonja Schebeck and The Freestyle Orchestra, which premiered for Sydney’s VIVID Festival at City Recital Hall in 2019.

The pieces on this album, Castle in the Sky, with their fluid accompaniments over which float beautiful melodies, passionate and coloured with pastel harmonies, are an apt acquisition for Valentine’s Day. Beyond that, they are easy listening for any time of day and the bite-sized vividly descriptive titles and writing would also make it a popular addition to a child’s collection of music

Shamistha de Soysa for SoundsLikeSydney©

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