ambient classical composer contemporary classical improvisation piano review

Henning Schmiedt – Piano Diary Review

Everyday rituals to compose and think.

Sounds like…

A freeform but gentle piano experiment.

The review

‘Piano Diary’ is part musical experiment, part chronicle of time. Henning Schmiedt has learned over his career the art of “Instant Composing”. It’s a set of techniques that supports musicians to create music on the fly. Henning thought that during the pandemic, every day he would create a new piece on his upright piano in his living room. No second takes. Fluffs included. Just going with the flow. ‘Piano Diary’ contains some of that output.

What I find fascinating as a very amateur composer myself is that despite being one take wonders and completely off the cuff, there is a theme and feel to the album. Henning’s piano playing style does feel inspired by his German roots. It feels rooted in nostalgia, thoughtfulness and yet never feels truly like a cascade of freedom. There are motifs and chord progressions that Schmiedt leans into a few times as if they recount previous days. You can hear other sounds around his living room too, giving it an intimate ‘time stops still’ quality too. Whilst there aren’t duff notes, some of the sympathetic strings to the piano playing do sound a bit detuned in places, a bit like the ripples of worldly consequence going on outside.

Henning Schmiedt

Henning Schmiedt says that the songs became a bit of an emotional charter for him over the pandemic and you can hear it. The album is brightest in the earlier tracks, with zest and oomph. My favourite duo of tracks ’25 to 7′ and ‘Half Past’ are two of the more spiralling complex tracks that begin a journey towards a slightly more opaque feeling. The album is never sad but as it progresses, you can hear and feel a sense of slowed down malaise creep in. It’s subtle but it’s there. As the music gets more disparate and dreamy, empty clouded synth hums are included too as if to evoke numbness. ‘Too Early’ is a great example of this walking wounded style of composition and delivery.

Ultimately, the collection is largely soothing. There are no grandiose moments – just moments of reflection in time. Henning Schmiedt is a great performer and composer in being to trigger all of this without thought or error. It’s like a collection of early morning piano bird songs to set you up for your day. Not for everyone, but it definitely nails its ‘how do I tackle today’ ruminations.

Recommended track: 25 to 7

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Henning Schmiedt - Piano Diary

7.5

7.5/10

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