Chris Donnelly

Metamorphosis

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Chris Donnelly's second CD, like his debut effort, consists of solo piano. But the young man is even more ambitious for this outing, as it consists of one continuous original work in ten connected movements, inspired by artist M.C. Escher's 1939 Metamorphosis. The piece combines both composed and improvised sections, and while one can hear the influence of various pianists, one never feels that the music gets into a holding pattern or into such a dense improvisation that the concept is lost. Rather than splice together his best takes of each movement, Donnelly recorded the entire piece four times, then selected his favorite performance. For such a young artist, Donnelly has a gift for finding remarkable voicings, developing each theme in a logical yet creative manner, and never losing the ear of his listener. Among the highlights are the dramatic, heartfelt "Cresting, Falling Away," the intense "You Hear the Voice" (in which one can hear Donnelly's classical roots), and the hypnotic "The Bough of Time" (with its Igor Stravinsky-like dissonance). The themes "You Are the Dancer" and "You Are the Dance" (used as the opening and closing tracks, respectively) are variations on a similar motif, with Donnelly creating a wall of sound with his use of the sustain pedal as the suite gently fades to its stark conclusion, much like a heart beating for the last time. Chris Donnelly's Metamorphosis is a major accomplishment that proves this young Canadian is worthy of wider recognition.

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