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The Sunflower Waltz

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Customer Reviews

Review excerpt from Music and Media Focus

While pianist/composer Anne Trenning has featured a variety of accompanists on some of her previous albums, on this fourth release, “The Sunflower Waltz,” she has decided to fly solo. This album is envisioned as a "greatest hits" assemblage, offering ten new selections, and six previously released compositions interpreted as solo piano productions. Anne’s music and influences are diverse. A classically oriented feel is reflected in the album’s up-tempo title track. This piece is a showcase for Anne’s technical virtuosity on the piano, as well as her expressiveness.

A wonderful example of how brilliantly Anne is able to express an ineffable feeling in her music is on a track called “Just Fly.” With it’s left hand ostinato bass, juxtaposed against a floating right hand melodic line, the piece conveys a feeling of uncertainty and wondering, but also a sense of relief in knowing that it will work out eventually. I was deeply moved by the album’s closing track entitled “A Prayer For The World.” It’s a heartfelt piece that exemplifies one of the qualities I was most impressed by in Anne’s composing – the use of space and pauses to accentuate the melody. Sometimes having the vision of when “not” to play is as important as the notes themselves, and Anne has a finely tuned sense of that distinction.

There is a subtle sense of spirituality in the music of Anne Trenning that is quietly felt like a gentle breeze on a summer’s day. This intangible quality is perceived almost subliminally, yet is communicated in a very real way. “The Sunflower Waltz” is a gorgeous album filled with colors and contrasts, moods and melodies, to delight the ear of anyone fortunate enough to hear it. While this was my first exposure to Anne Trenning’s elegant music, I am most certain that it won’t be my last.

From MainlyPiano

"The Sunflower Waltz" is the fourth album by pianist/composer Anne Trenning, and the first since her 2009 "Watching For Rain." Her previous albums contained a number of ensemble works, but this time Anne has gifted us with sixteen original piano solos. A few of the tracks are solo arrangements of pieces from earlier albums while others appear here for the first time. A classically-trained pianist and organist from an early age, Trenning continued her music studies through college, although she didn’t start composing until after graduation. Drawing on life experiences as the inspiration for her music, Trenning’s compositions carry a wide range of emotions, but on her latest, the pieces are mostly warm and happy. For me, sunflowers have always been symbolic of simplicity, innocence, and joy, and that’s a pretty decent description of this album overall. Played with confidence and an expressive touch, the music is strong yet gentle, simple yet complex, sometimes with Celtic influences and sometimes pure Americana. Recorded and engineered at Joe Bongiorno’s Piano Haven Studio in Sedona, AZ, the sound of Joe’s Shigeru Kawai grand is clear, clean, and warm.

"The Sunflower Waltz" begins with “Max’s Birthday,” a sweet and gentle piece that expresses love as well as happiness - a great start! The title track swirls and dances around the piano keyboard with a light touch and joyful abandon. “Fade to Blue” is quite a bit more subdued, but in a dreamy, reflective sense rather than sad or “blue.” I really like the soft, misty feeling of this piece and the graceful way that Trenning expresses herself. “Cowgirl Daydream” has a nostalgic and old-fashioned feeling as if it came from a Western movie from decades ago. Wistful with a sense of innocence and simpler times, it’s a charmer! “In the Gloaming Light” is also nostalgic, but for a time long ago in faraway places. If you need an antidote to all of the stresses of your day, look no further than “Backyard Dreamer.” Relaxed yet structured and melodic, the warmth and simplicity of this piece is like a mental massage. One of my favorites is “Where Rivers Run,” a graceful, gently-flowing piece that expresses peace and serenity - beautiful! “The Welcome Song” has a hymn-like quality that is melodic and really needs no words to express its meaning. “A Prayer For the World” closes the album with a heartfelt message of hope and healing.

" Sunflower Waltz" is highly recommended!

From GAIA Prime Radio

Put simply, the music on “The Sunflower Waltz” is exceptional. First and foremost, and in a manner similar to renowned musicians such as Terry Oldfield, Bill Leslie, and Fiona Joy, Anne’s compositions have “character” and “heart.” The music is mostly warm, upbeat, optimistic, positive, and most of all “sincere,” with strong, crisp, and memorable melodies. And despite being “solo piano” music, it is nonetheless so adeptly and creatively crafted, sophisticated, and varied in style and temperament that it can easily hold your attention for the entire length of the album without any need for accompaniment.
Moreover, Anne’s piano performances are quite powerful — reflecting a level of confidence, skill, expressivity, and simple grace and elegance in her touch on the keyboard that we find is rare among contemporary new age pianists.

The album begins magnificently with a track titled “Max’s Birthday,” which is an upbeat, fast moving, energetic, bouncy, fun, cheerful, up-tempo, stylish, and optimistic work, with charming hints of childhood joy and appreciation for the gift that is life. It was inspired by the happy sounds of an eight year old neighbor’s birthday party, and it is our most favorite track on the album.

The title track, which is also up-tempo, and certainly “waltz” like, shows a bit more of a classical influence, with just a hint of Americana, and outstanding creative nuance. With it’s flowing, energetic, and buoyant qualities, one is left with the unmistakable impression of a field of tall, sturdy, and beautiful sunflowers joyfully swaying and dancing in a steady breeze on a sunlit day.

In contrast, “Claire Of My Heart,” is a tad slower, with a more straightforward solo piano style, a catchy melody, and as the title suggests, Irish Celtic music influences. But it also at times we hear a slight hint of “music box” music. Nicely done!

Another of our favorite tracks on the album is “Just Fly.” With its implied theme of “just being patient and having faith that things will turn out okay,” it provides a compelling example of how Anne’s solo piano music is so superbly crafted that it is a pure joy to hear. This track is more up-tempo, positive, upbeat, and wonderfully stylish, with a clever and distinctive melody, and a magnificent lyrical quality. And throughout the song, one can easily hear the refrain “just fly,” as if someone was actually singing those words – but , of course, THERE IS NO ONE SINGING! It is simply a testament to Anne’s brilliant ability to express an idea and mood through the careful crafting of her music.

The next track,”Fade To Blue,” which is also one of our particular favorites, again manifests a powerful, creative, and memorable melody, but this time with much more down tempo, gentle, graceful, delicate, tender, reflective, plaintive, and haunting qualities. In fact, it is probably the most reflective and emotional track on the album. It is also just an incredibly beautiful song.

“Letting Go,” as the title suggests, is decidedly more up-tempo, with a bight, energetic, carefree, fun, and uplifting melody. It is also a good example, as is “Just Fly,” of how Anne’s music often has narrative qualities–little stories without words.

“Cowgirl Daydream” is a much more down tempo, contemplative, country music infused, and romantic “slow dance,” with very pronounced “waltz like” qualities – but the type of slow, swaying waltz you might hear at an old-time country or Old West suaree, square dance, or “barn dance.” It clearly reflects Anne’s passion for Americana and will most likely bring a smile to your face.

The next two tracks go in a very different direction and are reflective of Anne’s profound faith. In addition to sharing a religious theme, both have clear “church music” influences. While listening to “In The Gloaming Light,” which is a bit slower, more sedate, more reflective, with a hint of country music melancholy, and a strong melody, one can easily envision hearing this song being played on a church organ. In fact, on the inside of the CD cover there is a quote that could perhaps serve as an alternate title for this track — “In the gloaming light you can see the face of God.” Similarly, “Sing To The Lord,” features another strong melody, but with a less energetic style, and an undercurrent of joy and praise. And given the title, and the distinct lyrical and prayer like qualities of the music, this track refects just a hint of “church choir.”

Another of our favorites, “Backyard Dreamer,” is a very contemplative, dreamy, relaxing, and at times wistful track, with a much much slower tempo. One can easily envision silently lounging in a backyard hammock, on a bright, sunny, Sunday afternoon, and just daydreaming, while sipping on a Mint Julep or a glass of lemonade.

“Where Rivers Run” and “Days Gone By,” both originally from the “Suite Tea” album, are slow, reflective, and at times pensive, but yet subtly cheerful, positive, and optimistic. With their strong and memorable melodies, and occasional clever playfulness, they are again both good examples of the subtle narrative qualities of Anne’s music. And “Days Gone By” is also quite simply an exquisite work that leaves you wanting more.

The album ends perfectly with Anne’s faith inspired, beautiful, tender, peaceful, contemplative, and sincere “A Prayer For The World.” Also from “Watching For Rain,” it is a slower, more dramatic, and masterfully crafted work that plaintively calls for us to heed the message of concern, love, and hope that Anne desperately and genuinely wants to convey.
“This is my prayer for humanity. When things seem most disheartening, let music fill your heart with hope, and with this profound gesture, may hope help you see your way forward. May you persevere as a sunflower in all its radiant glory.”

We very highly recommend “The Sunflower Waltz.”

Biography

Genre: New Age

Years Active: '00s

Instrumental pianist Anne Trenning grew up in Barrington, IL, and began taking organ lessons at seven. She turned to the piano at 12 and studied privately. She attended Converse College on a music scholarship and earned her B.A. in music and history. After college, she moved to Charlotte, NC, in 1987 and was not involved with music professionally. But after her mother gave her the family piano, she returned to performing and began composing. She made a demo tape that was heard by David Lanz, which...
Full Bio
The Sunflower Waltz, Anne Trenning
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  • $9.99
  • Genres: New Age, Music, Rock
  • Released: Oct 09, 2015

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