The softest pedal in piano music.
The term ‘Una Corda’ means to use the soft pedal. When used for piano music, it is often what gives that soft, dreamy quality to the instrument. It is when things sound their most intimate. Peter Colclasure has been drawn to using this soft pedal for his new album ‘Una Corda’. Its designed to create calm and whilst it was written pre-COVID, it feels like the perfect time to release it.
Across the albums twelve tracks, Peter showcases his piano skills in a variety of ways. From the opening title track, the piano is fuzzy and distant. It is also drenched in a reverb that gives the playing a timeless serenity. Washed underneath is a warm drone of the resonance of the piano too so the whole experience feels like a dream. Even when the tracks are complex, such as the superb ‘Etude’ or ‘Architecture’, it still sounds and feels peaceful.
The piano is rarely delivered straight forward and upfront. For example ‘A Likely Carrington Event’ uses the piano noise and synthesizes it into a glass tuning session. ‘Pavane’ and ‘The Underdown’ prepare the piano to sound like wiry hammers are hitting the keys. The microphones sound like they are inside the piano. The ivory hits are so pure and close to the ear and it sounds so delicate. ‘Gardening’ plays a lot with reverse reverb and the piano is a distant rumble of keys that you never hear the initial attack of.
Fans of the prepared piano will get a kick out of Peter Colclasure’s work. The way how he can make the piano percussive, bell-like, glassy and creamy is inspired. As no two tracks follow giving the same style of piano, you are always wondering what the next sound will be. After ten tracks of pure bliss, Peter then throws the bathwater out by connecting his piano to an electric guitar distortion effect that makes the piano sizzle and growl. ‘Nur Wer Die Punkrock Kennt’ then plays the piano like a guitar with drums and a synth choir backing him up. It is a strange mix of rock and classical that is both and neither of them and its the albums’ curious oddity. ‘Noah and the Waves’ then brings us the only straight forward piano piece as a cleansed outro.
Melodic, playful and full of peace, ‘Una Corda’ is a delightful album that will please many contemporary classical fans. Peter Colclasure has an ear for the soft pedal and also for how to prepare a piano to take on different properties entirely. Hauschka for beginners.
Recommended track: Una Corda
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