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Vanessa Wagner brings modern piano music to the masses with Study of the Invisible

"Study of the Invisible"

Release date: 25 March 2022
Vanessa wagner study art
21 March 2022, 06:45 Written by Ray Honeybourne
An imaginative and well thought-through set of various pieces, loosely collected under the Minimalist heading, Vanessa Wagner's solo piano album Study of the Invisible represents a splendid primer that sets the familiar (such as the ubiquitous Philip Glass) alongside the undeservedly more obscure.

The juxtaposition of tracks is especially effective here, allowing an appreciation of the range of compositions in a genre that is too often rather narrowly and inaccurately defined. A good illustration is provided by the first two tracks. The swift, light rippling notes of Suzanne Cianci's "Rain", followed by the gradual filling-out and subsequent stripping back of the piano sound of Harold Budd's "La Casa Bruja". The pieces are clearly linked in terms of categorisation, yet differ considerably in musical texture.

With a back catalogue ranging from Rameau (1720s) to Debussy (early 1900s), Vanessa Wagner brings an informed musical-historical perspective to this album, alert to the importance of rhythmic subtlety and nuance of tempo shift – such that the 'ambient' track, "Celeste" by Brian and Roger Eno comes presented with beautiful insight into its apparently skeletal character.

Significantly, there is a good representation of female composers in this release, so that the quality of Caroline Shaw and Julia Wolfe can be heard alongside the work of Glass and Bryce Dessner. The French label Infiné is to be commended for putting out this fine album that brings together some excellent, very accessible modern piano music that those who might be uncertain or know comparatively little about this musical area can approach without any trepidation whatsoever and find very rewarding.

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