|SHIMMER - music by Phillip Wilcher ,Jeanell Carrigan, piano. Reviewed by Mike Smith for 2MBS-FM Fine Music , June 2004|
|In this, his fourth CD of solo piano music, Phillip Wilcher presents a more openly romantic nature than in his earlier CDs. He describes melody as the most sovereign of musical elements, and indeed here is a collection of works which really showcase this aspect of his style. They are superbly played by Jeanell Carrigan.Her playing is delicate and sensitive, yet impassioned whenever the music requires it.But neither the range of her tonal palette nor the music itself is well served by the quality of the recorded sound.Even with the use of the brighter and more versatile Stuart piano,the recorded sound seems very dull and dry, more like a sound-proofed Conservatorium practice room than a medium-sized concert hall.This inhibits the natural harmonies that are so important in music.
SHIMMER reminds me of sitting in a quiet piano bar in anexpensive hotel.I can imagine settling down with a glass of good red and opening the peanuts before going to dinner. The listening is easy, but the difference is that unlike in a piano bar, this music does actually go somewhere.As you listen, the melodies weave their magic spell and start to demand your attention. By degrees,I find myself looking up from my dreams and starting to watch the pianist.For something is happening here:this isn't just lounge music;it's actually communicating with me.Every piece on this CD is characterised by beautiful melody.
In these 15 short pieces (none is longer than five minutes or shorter than 47 seconds)I am at times reminded of Rachmaninov, Albeniz and even Brahms, although the music doesn't ever quite sound like any of them.There is an intimacy about Wilcher's style that defies criticism (how can you criticise beauty?).What you hear is what you get.
However,there is little development of the musical material,and I find myself yearning for another angle or expansion of the ideas that he presents to us.It's a shame, especially since the CD is a shade under 30 minutes in total, and I am left with the slight feeling of expecting more to come. Like nouvelle cuisine,it's beautifully crafted and absolutely delicious, but I'd like a little more, please!
So finish your peanuts, drink your wine,then sit back and listen to this CD. If you want to hear some really relaxing, melodically inventive Australian piano music, I commend this CD to you.It is available through the Australian Music Centre or through 2MBS-FM (02 9439 4901) MS