Sunday, March 4, 2012

CD Review – In the Wake, by Ann Sweeten

Ann Sweeten returns refreshed and renewed with a collection of tranquil piano tunes that seek to move beyond the pressures of the past and look ahead to the future with determination.

Once again, Sweeten turns to producer Will Ackerman and his Imaginary Road Studios in Vermont to provide a crisp, state-of-the-art recording that brings out the nuanced subtleties of Sweeten’s masterful keyboard skills. This gives the CD the sense of an up-close-and-personal performance at an intimate venue.

Sweeten is joined on this outing by Ackerman on guitar, Trisha Craig on flute, Akane Setiawan on English horn and oboe, Andrew Eng on viola and violin, and Liz Ehrman on cello. These musicians are as masterful in their restraint as they are in their technique, perfectly accentuating the piano-based focus of the music and providing just a hint of embellishment in keeping with the overall quietude of the album.

As usual, Sweeten’s compositions are striking and beautiful, complemented by Sweeten’s gorgeous performances. Some of her playing is simple and understated, and some of it is very complex and involved. But it is all effortlessly and expertly controlled, evidence of a true maestro at work. The result is a perfect mental getaway and a fine listening experience.

--Raj Manoharan

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