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Two Hands

Gunnar Madsen

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Customer Reviews

Two Hands is a Glorious Journey of the Heart

Two Hands instantly entered my heart and stayed. Each piece is simply stated, imposing no opinions on how I am to feel, allowing me freedom to experience joy, to yearn, to smile, to rest, to reflect, to be present. It held me in a way I have not experienced through music in a very long time. I adore every piece that Madsen wrote and played with his blessed Two Hands. Two Hands fits in many genre's of music but the main place it belongs is in your heart.

Distinctive, creative, gentle

The thing I admire most about Gunnar's new CD "Two Hands", is the unique personality of each piece. Lovely melodies and thoughtful harmonies abound throughout this disc. As pensive and gentle as some of the Chopin nocturnes, pieces like "Break Into Blossom", "Nino and Me", "Bandon" and "Imagine it Falling" project heartfelt originality. A wonderful fold-out cover includes his inspiration and thoughts behind the works. Highly recommended in the solo piano genre.

From MainlyPiano

It’s a daunting task to adequately introduce an artist with Gunnar Madsen’s experience and diverse background in a few short sentences. He is an award-winning composer, singer (The Bobs a capella group), pianist, writer, sound designer, filmmaker, and actor. He has composed and written music and books for all age groups, acted in stage plays and musicals as well as films; he has received commissions from Lincoln Center, the Los Angeles Theater Center, the Minnesota Opera, Oberlin Dance Collective, and on and on. "Two Hands" is Madsen’s eighteenth album to date, and is comprised of fifteen original solo piano compositions and three pieces for piano and violin. (Violinist Irene Sazer of The Turtle Island String Quartet appears as a guest artist.) While the album is very cohesive as an entity, there is variety in the music that reflects Madsen’s wide range of life and artistic experience. Deeply personal and often cinematic, the music conveys an abundance of emotions without becoming overly complicated or flamboyant. This is the music of a very accomplished artist speaking from his heart via the piano. Recorded on the much-loved piano at Skywalker Sound, the audio quality is stellar. "Two Hands" is certainly in the running to be one of my favorite albums of 2010.

"Two Hands" begins with “Break Into Blossom,” a soft-spoken piece that suggests hope and optimism. “In These Lonely Regions” was inspired by a line from a poem by Neruda as well as the passing of a favorite uncle. Very spare and open, strong emotions are expressed with a minimum of notes. “Kerenyi” was adapted from a play Madsen wrote in 1981. Dark and mysterious as a piano solo, the violin enters about 1/3 of the way into the piece and casts an even more haunting spell. “Nino and Me” is a lovely romantic waltz with a tender and graceful melody - very visual. “The Blackbird Whistling” is one of my favorites. Inspired by Wallace Stevens’ poem, “13 Ways of Looking At a Blackbird,” it more than hints of Erik Satie. The title could also be a nod to Satie’s odd titles and playing instructions. Most of the piece is very slow, spare, and flowing, trailing off at the end - exceptional! “Bandon” refers to a town on the Oregon Coast where Madsen’s great aunt and uncle had a cranberry farm that he visited one summer as a young boy. It’s the music of memories - simple and uncluttered. “For Wendy” was Madsen’s first composition, written for a girlfriend years ago. The heartfelt emotions convey the unbridled passions of youth. “Down Moon” gets me every time I hear it and is my favorite piece on this excellent album. Very dark and melancholy with occasional flickers of hope, it really makes my fingers itch (sheet music???)! I also really love “Oak Sky.” Simple yet incredibly moody, it says so much with so little. “Red Bird” ends the album with a gorgeous piano/violin duet that is perhaps the most cinematic piece of the album. Dark and expressive, it’s an evocative musical dialog between two artists.

"Two Hands" is an incredible musical experience that I very highly recommend. Check it out!

Biography

Genre: Children's Music

Years Active: '90s, '00s

Best known as the founder of the acclaimed a cappella group the Bobs, vocalist/composer Gunnar Madsen became obsessed with music as a youth after seeing the Beatles on The Ed Sullivan Show, and after giving up the piano after six months of lessons, as a teen he taught himself to play guitar. He later studied classical piano as well, attending UC Berkeley and even working briefly as a messenger for a singing telegram company. Madsen co-founded the Bobs in 1981, and in the decade to follow the group...
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Two Hands, Gunnar Madsen
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