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TRACK LIST: 1. Blue Joy 5:31 2. Where Are You Father 6:13 3. Song for My Children 5:27 4. Progressive Youth 5:38 5. Usual Day 7:47 6. Pictures of Life 8:55 7. These Are Hard Times 4:40 8. 4th Millennium 5:23 9. Silent Thoughts 5:47 10. Acid Fall 5:31 SOLO PILOT: Ratoi Catalin – piano, keyboards
Prolusion. Ratoi CATALIN is a pianist and composer based in Mangalia, Romania. He issued his first album, "Pictures of Life," in the middle of 2009, describing his musical exploits as progressive new age piano. The main sources of inspiration cited are the more or less unlikely duo of Keith Emerson and Richard Clayderman.
Analysis. For a layman without any knowledge of or talents with instruments, describing instrumental productions dominated first and foremost by one instrument is something of a challenge. Some are fairly easy to describe, where the challenge first and foremost is to be able to write enough informative and (hopefully) interesting stuff about the CD, while others challenge the vocabulary to a much greater extent. This is a case of the latter, an album where good knowledge about the art of piano playing and terminologies used by the above instrumentalists would have come in rather handy. Six of the ten pieces on this disc only feature piano and seem to have a compositional foundation in dual-layered constructions, with a slightly subdued wandering pattern providing a light and mostly positive and uplifting texture, and a second layer consisting of a somewhat less elaborate theme featuring a slower performance with more of an emphasis on resonating individual notes. This second aspect of the theme explored tends to provide moods of a more melancholic nature. Variations in tempo and intensity are skillfully utilized to keep the momentum going, and just as skillfully themes will evolve on to new territories and also be revisited more or less in their original expression. To some extent, one might say that the use of recurring themes stamps these efforts with a strong individual presence. Further variations are inserted by way of staccato, dramatic inserts and themes, performed in a manner that should be fairly recognizable to those familiar with the works of musicians like Keith Emerson. Four compositions are set up rather differently though. Silent Thoughts is a lush construction featuring echoing, electric piano in a rather less elaborate workout. While on Progressive Youth, These Are Hard Times and Acid Fall we're treated to an easy-going piano theme with resonating notes underscored by lush, space-tinged keyboard textures and electronic rhythms. Personally I found these efforts to be the most intriguing excursions on this CD, and while not as sophisticated as the purebred piano tracks, the additional contrasts add more of a dramatic sheen to these creations.
Conclusion. Catalin's description of the music featured on "Pictures of Life" as progressive new age piano seems to be a rather accurate one. The featured compositions reside in the borderline between easy-going new age-inspired constructions and the more sophisticated musical territories of progressive music. First and foremost this is a disc made by and for those who love the piano though, and those who would subscribe as belonging to that category of music lovers should find this album to be an interesting affair, well worth spending time and a bit of money on.
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