Check it out... if sublime piano-based movements interest you in the slightest, or you like film music in general!
Skip it... if a 27 minute movement is much too long for your taste to stomach.
I've always been troubled by the notion that piano-based scores are going out of fashion and popularity, because they're often full of such blissful, brilliant music, and commonly find their way into my best of lists at the end of the year. Just last year, Austin Wintory's Monaco: What's Yours Is Mine, another piano-based score, obliterated the competition in the Best Video Game category, with all but one instrument. I honestly never thought that a score like Monaco (piano-based) would come into contact with my ears so quickly afterwards, but Grand Piano has arrived, and I'm confident it's going to sweep the awards towards the end of the year.
Victor Reyes' Grand Piano is riddled with various classical composers standards, and flies them high, along with his Reyes' own technical mastery. This score has already won a great deal of awards in the soundtrack industry, and for good damn reason. From beginning to end, there is no end to the awe-inspiring, near magical music, that has you on cloud 9 the entire run through. For someone like myself whom has an incredibly short attention span, an 11 minute long piece is a challenging and daunting prospect to face, but I'll gladly accept it multiple times, as Reyes consistently proves it to be a worthwhile effort. It's some of the most satisfying music I've had the joy of listening to. Every set, every riff, every note is mind dazzling and somewhat confusing; as to how an individual can play what Reyes has constructed is beyond a simple listener like myself! It's listening experiences like this that take me back to my first introduction to the world of orchestral film music; the first time I heard The Dark Knight, by Hans Zimmer, I simply couldn't keep my mouth closed. I'd only recently began learning the flute, as is my school's custom when you're welcomed in as a year 7 student, and I had come to know the difficulty with learning and performing with any individual instrument. I was utterly confused as to how music could be manipulated and delivered in the forms that it was being delivered in throughout The Dark Knight, and I'm suddenly getting the same feeling here, for the first time in a whole 2 years. The final piece on the card La Cinquette was a masterclass in classical piano, and showed me what you can really do with one instrument. If I thought Monaco was an inspiring showcase for the piano, than this score goes above and beyond.
I will admit, there is fault to be found in the first piece on the card, Main Titles. Whilst the rest of the score seems to be outdoing it's own genre, that being film music, Main Titles slots into the genre of film music a little too comfortably. It certainly sets the atmosphere for the rest of the album very well, and the written material is absolutely pitch perfect; it's just the piano doesn't necessarily feel like the centre piece for the track. Unlike the rest of the score, where you can clearly see this is a classical piano score at heart, it feels a little too out of place among the rest of what Reyes has provided. This is certainly not to say that this piece is bad, it's just the piece is a little unfitting in ways for the introduction for a solely piano score.
The real highlight of the score, undoubtedly and obviously, is the 27 minute long movement, which is utterly amazing. Taking inspiration it seems from a number of brilliant classical composers, the movement is filled to the brim with some impeccable music, that is ever embellished with beautiful, but ever subtle brass assistance, along with some light but noticeable string work. The piano, as is the theme within the rest of the score, leads the entire movement, and rises in pace and intensity quite often, so as to not let you get comfortable. It's a very gripping and treacherous movement, to say the least. The third section of the movement is by far the best piece of it all, with some mesmerising and unforgettable moments that outdo anything I've heard in the past 6 months; move over History of Artemsia, the Best Piece Award, at this point in time, is certainly being rewarded to this track!
In conclusion, Grand Piano is a triumphant score that reinvigorates classical piano within film music, to be sure, Grand Piano is an enjoyable, wonder filled, extravagant piece that works to undermine even the brilliance that was Monaco by Austin Wintory, my favourite Video Game Score of last year, another piano-based effort. It has faults, yet I still can't find it in me to give this anything less than a perfect score. This begs purchase! You can buy Grand Piano on Amazon here.
1. Grand Piano Main Titles
2. Grand Piano Concerto: 1st Movement*
3. Grand Piano Concerto: 2nd Movement*
4. Grand Piano Concerto: 3rd Movement*
5. La Cinquette*
Junkie Score: 100
Buy or Stream? Buy
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