“CHAPTERS” by Stephen Wallack
“Chapters” is the debut album for composer and solo pianist, Stephen Wallack. Stephen started playing piano when he was five years of age on the very same orange piano pictured on the album cover. He started composing his own music at the age of fourteen. All the compositions on “Chapters,” were composed and played by Stephen and recorded on a Steinway S Grand piano.
The album is a “journey;” the songs, like “chapters” from his life. But it’s not just his journey. The listener is able to connect with and identify their own “chapters” and make their own story come alive through the music.
“Chapters” is ten tracks and almost one hour of solo piano. However, this is not your typical New Age relaxation or meditation music. This music is energetic and fast paced, passionate and vibrant throughout. His impressive keyboarding skills evident, the songs are played confidently and with conviction.
The album opens with the quite energetic “Virginia.” This is almost seven minutes of well-executed exuberance. Following is the very pretty “Oceans,” which starts out a little quieter and then moves into painting us an expressive soundscape of how the ocean really is; sometimes gentle, sometimes more vigorous, but always immensely beautiful. Tempo changes within the song perfectly capture these movements of ebb and flow. Very nicely done.
“Cooper’s Song,” a tribute to a departed friend, also incorporates interesting and effective tempo changes. The song is passionate and heartfelt. “Trains” is a five-minute track which makes good use of both upper and lower registers of the piano. It’s balanced, melodic, and flowing. Very pretty, moving, it’s a favorite on this album.
“Dad” is a piece he wrote after his father passed away. This is quite emotional, as one might expect, soft and gentle and playful in places, grateful as well, and then more fervent, impassioned, and intense in others. You can really feel this song in right in your heart, even if you didn’t know what it is about. Very powerful.
Capturing the energy of that metropolis perfectly, “Chicago” is brilliant. The tempo changes are perfectly employed and effective, as is the use of both upper and lower registers. The city is alive even when it sleeps. We can hear it and feel it. There is a lot going on here. This is like its own vignette inside a larger vignette.
Fast-paced and energetic, with a catchy melody that conveys the excitement and anticipation we usually feel when embarking upon a journey, “The Traveler,” is another one to like. The pace gets slower toward the end as “the traveler” takes a little break from all the traveling. Very enjoyable and well-done.
The extremely beautiful “Weddings” was written as music for Stephen’s wife to walk down the aisle at their wedding. What a loving tribute to love. It’s gorgeous. “Holiday” starts off with a kind of gentle anticipation and becomes even more engaging as it moves along, particularly toward the end. Passionate and heartfelt, it’s another emotionally stirring tune.
The album rounds out with the dynamic and booming, “Archer,” which is another tribute to a friend who has passed on. This is jam-packed full of life, perhaps much like Archer. Toward the middle-end, things quiet down considerably. But then the lower registers come to life, again, perhaps much like Archer. . .
“Chapters” is a bold, spirited, wildly passionate, emotionally stirring solo piano album. Well-composed and well-played, it left me breathless. We all look forward to hearing more from this talented artist. Bravo.
Get “Chapters” here: https://www.stephenwallackmusic.com
The Creative Service Company