Michael Pinnella

Enter by the Twelfth Gate

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For his solo album, Symphony X keyboardist Michael Pinnella departs from his usual progressive metal fare to deliver a sort of rock/classical fusion album that, surprising as it may sound, succeeds more than it fails. To his everlasting credit, none of this music comes across as new age-y; Pinnella is obviously a serious student of the 18th and 19th century masters, and the three-movement piano concerto he unveils here is not too bad by classical standards. At his worst, his writing and playing bring to mind those Richard Clayderman albums that were always being advertised on TV back in the 1980s, but at his best, his compositions are complex and enjoyable and his playing is flawless. His best includes "White Room" (not the Cream song) and a fine rendition of a difficult Scriabin etude. His worst includes the rather overwrought "Falling From the Sky." Everything on this album is at least interesting, though, and some of it is excellent.

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