11 Songs, 40 Minutes

TITLE TIME
5:21
4:31
4:17
2:43
3:44
3:32
3:09
3:50
3:15
3:03
3:20

Ratings and Reviews

4.9 out of 5

9 Ratings

9 Ratings

Breathtaking

KFaithHopeB

Wow. Such beautiful and soothing music.
Such a talented artist right here.

Review excerpt from Music and Media Focus

MDiamond

Denise has created “Passionata,” an emotional journey composed of eleven original songs that tell a story through classical and modern Victorian themes and motifs. Like her previous recording, this one was also recorded at Imaginary Road Studio, owned by Grammy winning producer and Windham Hill Records founder Will Ackerman. And adding to that expression are the talents of a number of top studio musicians who often grace the tracks of Will Ackerman-produced recordings. Four pieces contain beautifully layered cello orchestration, three include authentic African percussion instruments, and one is accompanied by evocative vocal melodies.

From the opening refrains of the title track, which begins the album, I was struck by how much classical influence there is in Denise’s playing. While many piano albums that fall under the new age heading are by artists who are classically trained, the influence of classical music is often more in the background, or just hinted at. On “Passionata,” however, it is quite present in all its romantic glory. On the next track, entitled “Above The Clouds,” after a solo piano intro, Denise’s delicate musical passages are gracefully accented by sonorous strings of cellist Eugene Friesen. A frequent contributor on Will Ackerman-produced recordings Eugene is well known as a member of the legendary Paul Winter Consort. As on many recordings produced in this studio, the contributions of the session musicians are understated, and kept relatively low in the mix, although the cello does have a bit more presence on some compositions.

Sometimes a song’s title fits so well and perfectly captures the mood of the piece. Such is the case with “Cobblestones In The Rain,” with its melancholy tones in shades of gray that echo loneliness down a rain swept street. In keeping with the album’s theme, another ensemble piece called “Desire,” keeps the flame burning with some of Denise’s most heartfelt playing. The objective on this recording was to “take you on an emotional journey of love and passion,” and I think she has certainly achieved her goal. Denise’s songs are sublimely evocative and she expresses a range of sentiment with great romanticism, both in her playing and her composition.

From MainlyPiano

KathyPiano7

Passionata" is pianist/composer Denise Young’s third album and the first since her highly-acclaimed 2007 release, "Something You Dream Of....," which was nominated for Best Instrumental Piano Album of The Year. Produced by Will Ackerman and recorded at his Imaginary Road Studios in Vermont, this album is a combination of six piano solos and five ensemble pieces that feature cellist Eugene Friesen, Noah Wilding’s wordless vocals, Tom Eaton on bass, and Jeff Haynes on percussion. Passionata reflects Young’s love of classical music, but her stylings are fresh and contemporary - and exceptionally beautiful. A piano teacher and music therapist who started playing the piano at a very early age, Young’s touch is silky-smooth and her compositions are heartfelt and evocative. In the liner notes, Young states: “The music on "Passionata" embraces the love and passion that can be discovered and rediscovered in each of us - not unlike trees that lose their leaves in the fall only to grow new ones in the warmth of spring.” Elegant and graceful yet very approachable and accessible, I expect "Passionata" to be one of my favorite albums of the year.

"Passionata" begins with the title track, a haunting piano solo that expresses deep longing as well as anticipation and joy - what a stirring piece! “Above the Clouds” starts out as a piano solo and evolves into a flowing, magical duet for piano and cello. “Starlight Melody” opens with a quiet, very peaceful piano solo that gradually introduces cello, bass, and very light percussion - breathtaking! “There” is a piano quintet for all five musicians, including the ethereal vocals of Noah Wilding - a very recognizable component of many of Ackerman’s productions. “Cobblestones in the Rain” is my favorite of the piano solos. The rolling minor-chord arpeggios on the left hand lay an almost mournful base for the achingly beautiful melody. “Awakened” is a lighter trio for piano, cello and gentle percussion - dreamy and uplifting. “Desire” is a smoldering piano solo with some interesting percussion effects here and there. “Figure 8” has the grace of a slow dance or even a figure skating performance - a melancholy and very moving piano solo. “Secrets” closes the album with a bit more animation - something shared with only the closest of friends. It’s a fascinating piece that ends unresolved, with the final notes left hanging as they fade away.

"Passionata" was worth the seven-year wait between albums and Denise Young is likely on her way to more major award nominations. Great stuff! Very highly recommended!

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