More than simply another brilliant composer and piano performer, Margie Balter has been making sweet music with some of Hollywood's biggest names for nearly two decades as "Piano Teacher to the Stars." Launching this side of her multifaceted career by coaching Holly Hunter for her Oscar-winning role in The Piano, the versatile musician, composer, songwriter, and artist has worked with Tom Cruise (on piano and harpsichord for Interview with the Vampire), Sandra Bullock (The Net), Scarlett Johansson (The Man Who Wasn't There), Sanaa Lathan (Disappearing Acts), Barbara Hershey (Portrait of a Lady), Kevin Spacey (Beyond the Sea), and Jack Black (The Holiday). In the 2005 Beauty Shop starring Queen Latifah, Balter had an incredible six individual credits. Besides teaching Djimon Hounsou and young Paige Hurd to play, her original composition "Finding My Wings" was featured during a key recital scene as the end segment of a medley where Hurd segues from Chopin to John Coltrane's "Giant Steps" and into a more modern performing style. This special piece designed to chronicle the metamorphosis of Hurd's character, Vanessa, was the spark that led Balter to fulfill her own lifelong dream to release her first solo piano CD -- and indeed, Music from My Heart is beautifully played, melodic, often bluesy and jazzy, and rhythmic. Her classical influences also ensure a depth that many new age-oriented solo piano projects lack. The recording is both a celebration of some of the compositional highlights of Balter's career and a showcase for some of her colorful new material. Among the highlights are "Little M" and "Miles & Mefa," two pieces from her 1998 film score debut, Light Speed; the opening track, "First Baywatch," which she wrote with her friend Cathy Wyatt for one of her students, a lifeguard/producer who conceived Baywatch; "Whisper in the Dark," which Balter wrote for her star-studded 1993 piano recital the same year The Piano came out; "Bluesie," composed for Beauty Shop as a segue from French composer Erik Satie to blues; and "For Thee a Small Wall-tz," originally written in her college years. Balter's newer original pieces include the African-influenced "Zanzi" and the haunting yet wistful "Crystal Dream."
Music From My Heart Review
by Jonathan Widran