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"Seamless" is my 11th album, a unique collection of classic cover songs played with a classical twist. Although I love composing original songs, this album of my interpretations of well-known songs was encouraged by my family and friends. Since early childhood, I have enjoyed creating piano renditions of my favorite songs, mostly due to the lack of popular sheet music available when I was taking piano lessons. I have always enjoyed combining songs into a mash-up, releasing collections of children's songs and Christmas albums that included various medleys. "O' Holy Night" paired rhythmically with the "Moonlight Sonata", and "Mary Had a Little Lamb" seemed destined to join "Baa Baa Black Sheep"! So why not do the same with classic and popular songs.
Beethoven, meet Led Zeppelin. Adele, meet Bach. With centuries of music to choose from, the combinations are endless. This album features unique arrangements of some of my favorite songs over the decades. Melodies overlap with classical and new age threads, and are intertwined to create a seamless musical tapestry. This was a challenge that I really loved. I had so much fun that I'm already halfway finished with the second album of covers! I hope you enjoy it.
ABOUT THE SONGS
1) Beethoven's Stairway - The recognizable classical piece "Fur Elise" by Beethoven has a very similar pattern to the introduction to Led Zeppelin's famous "Stairway to Heaven", (but no lawsuit here!) These timeless classics seem to form a perfect union, as if they were meant to be together. As a teenager, it was also fun to play this classic rock song on piano, when I was supposed to be practicing classical pieces. I envisioned this similar theme for a music video, featuring a classically trained ballet dancer struggling with the desire to perform modern contemporary dance, and the artistic conflict is beautiful. Be sure to check out the video of "Beethoven's Stairway"!
2) The Police Trilogy - I have always been a huge fan of Sting and The Police, lured by the beautiful and simple melodies and lyrics. Here are just 3 of my favorites, woven into one piece - "Wrapped Around My Finger", "Fields of Gold", and "Every Breath You Take". I'm pretty sure I could create an entire CD of piano versions of music from Sting!
3) Hello Someone - Adele's distinct voice and widely popular music had to be included. Her two hit songs, "Hello" and "Someone Like Me" paired nicely, both musically and lyrically. I connected the two with a piano version of Bach's Prelude Suite No.1 for Cello.
4) Moonlight Hallelujah - I didn't appreciate the beauty of this song when I had to play it in my youth, but Beethoven's "Moonlight Sonata" is heavenly, and the song finds a perfect match with Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah". These two classic and iconic songs blend smoothly in rhythm, phrasing and breathtaking melodies.
5) Titanium Chandelier - As a composer of contemporary classical piano, people are often surprised to hear my personal playlist! I enjoy a variety of music, including current popular artists and songwriters. Sia has written and performed some powerful songs, and stripped down to only piano, they are such haunting melodies. Two of my favorites, "Titanium" and "Chandelier" are united to create a beautiful fusion.
6) Happy Together - This song has been covered by a number of artists over the years, originally made popular by The Turtles. I've arranged a slightly darker, classical version of the song, pairing it with a dramatic classical piece by Enrique Granados, "Valses Poeticos No. 3". I'd like to think they are "happy together"!
7) Bridge of Grace - The most difficult part of this song was thinking of a title! What do you name the combination of Simon and Garfunkel's gorgeous song, "Bridge Over Troubled Water", and the classic hymn, "Amazing Grace"? I tried to honor these two incredible pieces of music with this arrangement, and I love the message they deliver together.
8) Love, Elvis - My mother inspired me to pursue my passion for piano, and sadly I lost her much too early, back in 1990. One of her favorite singers was Elvis, and I wanted to include him on this album, but how? I decided to select a few slower, softer, love songs. So, what do you call "Can't Help Falling in Love" and "Love Me Tender"? These two beautiful songs are joined for the perfect marriage, bonded into one heartfelt love letter.
9) Can't Make You Stay - Sam Smith has an incredible voice, and his hit "Stay With Me", a heartfelt plea for love reminded me of a similar lyric in the Bonnie Rait song, "I Can't Make You Love Me", one of my all time favorites. Two generations collide! I love these two powerful voices and melodies, and I really think the music and message overlaps beautifully.
10) Hotel California Dreamin' - Chopin, The Mamas & The Papas, and The Eagles together? Yes! I had fun with this one, overlapping the melodies and piecing the puzzle together! Chopin helped me to connect the classic songs "California Dreamin" and "Hotel California" with his Prelude Op. 28 No. 20. Wasn't Chopin from California?
11) Rainbow Smile - This musical journey ends with two familiar nostalgic pieces. Charlie Chaplin's heartfelt song, "Smile" and the well-known melody, "Over the Rainbow", are two classics delivering a warm message and feeling of hope and inspiration.
Thanks for listening to my musical montage. These timeless songs that I love have influenced my music and inspired me. My hope is that the arrangements are familiar, yet intriguing. By joining melodies with seamless transitions, together they reflect memories past and present, with nostalgia and joy.
Pianist/composer/arranger Christine Brown has often included wonderful medleys on her albums, most notably on A Classic Christmas (2012) where she ingeniously combined holiday favorites with classical music with jaw-dropping ease. Medleys of songs aren’t anything new, but Christine Brown has taken a very unconventional assortment of favorite classical pieces and pop/rock songs and “seamlessly” woven them into something new and surprising. Led Zeppelin and Beethoven? Chopin, The Eagles, and The Mamas and the Papas? Adele and Bach? These unlikely combinations become beautiful, soulful piano solos that will be a treat to any music lover’s ears. Brown’s previous release, Souvenirs (2014), was awarded Album of the Year by Whisperings Solo Piano Radio and I would expect Seamless to receive similar accolades. It is certain to be on my list of Favorites for 2016! Seamless is Brown’s eleventh album and easily proves once again why she is one of my favorite artists.
Seamless begins with the very familiar opening notes of Beethoven’s “Fur Elise” but quickly becomes Led Zeppelin’s “Stairway to Heaven,” merging to become “Beethoven’s Stairway.” How is that even possible? And yet it’s an elegant pairing that is graceful as well as soul-stirring. “The Police Trilogy” is a medley of three of Brown’s favorite compositions by Sting (for the youngsters out there, The Police was Sting’s rock group before going solo): “Wrapped Around Your Finger,” “Fields of Gold” and “Every Breath You Take” - awesome! “Hello Someone” is a medley of Adele’s “Hello” and “Someone Like You” with the addition of JS Bach’s Prelude to the Cello Suite #1. Intrigued yet? If not, check out “Moonlight Hallelujah,” a mix of Beethoven’s sonata and Leonard Cohen’s classic song. Poignant and achingly beautiful, I can’t wait for the sheet music for this one - my favorite on the album. “Happy Together” combines The Turtles’ classic song with Enrique Granados’ “Valses Poeticos #3” to make a darkly haunting bit of musical magic. “Love, Elvis” pairs two of Elvis Presley’s most enduring love songs, “Can’t Help Falling in Love” and “Love Me Tender” into one romantic piano solo. Another wonderful surprise is the combo of “California Dreamin’,” “Hotel California” and Chopin’s C Minor Prelude (Op 28 #20). These very different pieces combine together effortlessly and effectively in Christine Brown’s amazing hands and imagination. I love this entire album, but this is my other favorite medley. “Rainbow Smile” combines the nostalgic songs “Smile” and “Over the Rainbow,” to create and warm and wistful closing to one of the best albums of the year.
I’m here in my office with my two cats giving Christine Brown a standing ovation! Seamless is incredible from the first note to the last. These medleys are all heartfelt and meaningful as well as gorgeous and I give this album my highest recommendation. It is available from ChristineBrownPiano.com, Amazon, iTunes and CD Baby.
Seamless is the perfect title for the eleventh release by solo pianist Christine Brown. In one of the coolest and most unique albums I’ve heard in a while, instrumental renditions of pop cover tunes, both old and new, segue in and out of classical compositions by the great composers. Beethoven intertwines with Led Zeppelin, Adele with Bach, and The Mama’s and Papa’s with The Eagles and Chopin, just to name a few. Christine Brown has taken the popular concept of a “mash-up” to a new level with her imaginative fusions played with impeccable style and grace. While Christine’s previous music has been highly regarded in the new age category, Seamless should appeal to a wide audience across a number of genres.
And speaking of previous music, I had the pleasure of writing about Christine’s wonderful last release, Souvenirs, which enjoyed great critical success as evidenced by it winning “Best Piano Album of 2014” from Whisperings Solo Piano Radio. Her CD was selected from over 100 albums that were voted on by a panel of pianists and composers. A number of her previous albums have also received a variety of nominations and accolades. In addition, Christine has the rare honor of being selected as an official Kawai Piano Artist, representing this esteemed piano company. My write up on Souvenirs includes information on her history and musical background, and readers who may be interested are encouraged to check out the link to it above.
Her new album, Seamless, however, takes a very different compositional approach in its blending of wildly divergent music, genres, and styles. As revealed in my interview with Christine, this is not a new creative mode for her: “As a teen, I would often create piano versions of popular music I heard on the radio. The little sheet music available then was not written for piano solos, typically just basic chords, melody line and lyrics. I mostly played classical music, but also enjoyed contemporary composers. The concept of mash-ups of cover songs is not really that new for me! I consider myself a contemporary classical composer, which often overlaps into the new age genre of solo piano.”
I always find it interesting to hear about an artist’s creative process, and in this regard Christine shared: “My goal is to take a familiar melody and intertwine another piece, creating a blended song that is ‘seamless.’ For this album I really wanted to cover songs that had such a strong, compelling melody that even without the lyrics, the song would be recognizable. I also wanted to include a variety of music, from older classic songs, to current pop music. This album wasn’t something I just improvised and recorded. It evolved over a couple of years, but was put aside a few times. I kept writing and re-writing the songs, adding sections, moving sections, and my handwritten arrangements look like a puzzle, literally with measures cut and pasted together – it definitely wasn’t seamless in the beginning! This was a challenge that I really loved. I had so much fun that I’m already halfway finished with the second album of covers!”
Now that we’ve talked about the past and the future, lets focus on the present and the incredibly innovative music on Seamless. The album opens with an intro featuring the recognizable classical piece “Fur Elise” by Beethoven. Shortly thereafter, it segues oh so smoothly into, what is for me, one of the most epic rock songs ever, “Stairway To Heaven” by Led Zeppelin. Throughout the track, the two melodies intertwine exquisitely, and as Christine mused: “These timeless classics seem to form a perfect union, as if they were meant to be together.” I was so moved by this performance that I almost felt like standing up and applauding at the end.
From there we progress into a medley of three well-known pop songs called “The Police Trilogy.” According to Christine: “I have always been a huge fan of Sting and The Police, lured by the beautiful and simple melodies and lyrics. Here are just 3 of my favorites, woven into one piece – ‘Wrapped Around My Finger,’ ‘Fields of Gold,’ and ‘Every Breath You Take.’” I found it fascinating to experience these songs in a different light, purely as melodies without the lyrics and accompaniment, and from a classical perspective. Moving ahead (and back) in time is “Hello Someone” featuring two songs by Adele, “Hello” and “Someone Like You” paired with a piano version of Bach’s “Prelude Suite No.1 for Cello.” In a word – amazing.
With 11 song collages on the album, I won’t go into detail on all of them, but will present a representative picture and favorite moments. In “Moonlight Hallelujah” Beethoven’s “Moonlight Sonata” meets Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” as these two classic and iconic songs blend smoothly in rhythm, phrasing, and breathtaking melodies. On the next piece, younger listeners will no doubt be familiar with the two songs by pop artist Sia: “Titanium” and “Chandelier.” An interesting and intriguing juxtaposition is on track 6 that pairs the darkly dramatic classical piece by Enrique Granados, “Valses Poeticos No. 3” with one of the lightest, most effervescent pop songs of the late 60’s, “Happy Together” by The Turtles. Talk about a yin/yang comparison – although Christine’s version of The Turtles song is infused with classical elements that allow it to blend more easily with Granados’ piece.
A pair of well-loved songs join in “Bridge of Grace” as Simon and Garfunkel’s “Bridge Over Troubled Water” crosses over into the beautiful hymn, “Amazing Grace.” Also beautiful, yet heart-breakingly so, is the pairing of Bonnie Rait’s “I Can’t Make You Love Me” with Sam Smith’s “Stay With Me.” My second favorite song on the album, after “Beethoven’s Stairway,” was “Hotel California Dreaming,” which interweaves The Mamas and The Papas “California Dreaming,” The Eagles’ “Hotel California,” and Chopin’s “Prelude Op. 28 No. 20.” Christine’s blending of these songs is masterful, and I particularly appreciated the lightness of the final notes added on after the darker minor key conclusion – a nice touch. The album’s last track provides a warm nostalgic glow in it’s fusing of Charlie Chaplin’s “Smile” with the classic “Wizard Of Oz” favorite, “Somewhere Over The Rainbow,” and makes for a perfect ending to an album full of surprises.
The title of this album could not be more accurate in describing the mastery in Christine’s blending of these unlikely song combinations. I would refer to her work as sonic surgery, in the way she was able to find and match melodic content from wildly disparate musical pieces and attach them so exquisitely as to make it feel like they were written as part of the same composition. While, for someone like myself, a member of the Woodstock generation, hearing the tunes by Led Zeppelin, Simon & Garfunkel, The Eagles, etc. brought back lots of memories, I also appreciated that Christine also drew from more contemporary sources like Adele, Sia, Sam Smith, and others, as well of course as the classical composers such as Beethoven, Chopin, and more – in essence providing something for everybody. The range of this album is astounding and the execution of it is brilliant, highlighting Christine Brown as one of the most imaginative artists in the solo piano genre today. I absolutely love this album and can’t wait to hear Christine’s next round of artistic alchemy.