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  • Writer's pictureArashk Azizi

Serenading the Soul: Exploring 'Still Waters' by Chris Opperman

"Still Waters" is a captivating contemporary classical album, featuring a collection of 14 solo piano pieces performed by the exceptionally talented Chris Opperman.

What makes this album particularly noteworthy is not only Chris's masterful execution but also the diversity of composers whose works are showcased. From Chris's own compositions to the compositions of celebrated figures like Pulitzer Prize winner Ellen Taaffe Zwilich, Ann Southam, Phillip Schroeder, Kimberly Osberg, and Tyler Kline, "Still Waters" offers a rich tapestry of musical styles and emotions.

Chris Opperman's performance throughout the album is nothing short of exceptional. He approaches the piano as if he were a potter molding clay. With each note, he sculpts an exquisite piece of art, infusing it with his own unique touch. It's a delicate balance of gentleness and firmness that Chris exhibits, where you can discern the powerful forte strikes of his fingers on the keys, yet the resulting sound is a gentle, soul-touching serenade.

In the piece composed by Phillip Schroeder, "Being in Wonder," Chris showcases his impeccable control over the dynamics of the piano. The way he manipulates the nuances of the instrument is truly mesmerizing. It's as if he's taking the listener on a journey through a range of emotions, painting musical landscapes with each stroke of the keys.

"Peace by Piece," a composition in five movements composed by Kimberly Osberg, brings to mind the harmonious and stylistic qualities of Debussy's work. Chris's interpretation of this composition is nothing short of extraordinary. His precision in phrasing, dynamics, and expression elevates this five-movement piece to new heights, particularly in the second movement, which begins in a lower register. The clarity and expressiveness he brings to the melody in the lower register is truly remarkable. The fourth movement, with its modernistic use of the piano to create a different timbre and soundscape, is equally impressive. The piece comes full circle in the fifth movement, returning to its initial mood, creating a profound emotional journey for the listener.

"Pond Life" composed by Ann Southam consists of four parts scattered throughout the album, showcasing the most contemporary harmonic progressions in this album. With intricate melody lines and complex harmonies, it is a formidable task for any performer to capture the essence of this music. Chris, however, accomplishes this with grace, bringing the right phrasing and expression to these challenging pieces.

In the composition "Grapefruit," by Tyler Kline a sentiment-rich piece with complex harmonic and rhythmic progressions, Chris manages the dynamic changes with finesse. The final recording is a masterpiece, illustrating his impeccable mastery of this intricate composition.

The album also includes three original compositions by Chris Opperman. "Underneath the Starlit Skies" weaves light and emotional patterns, creating a sentimental mood. "For Alice II" presents an ostinato-like melody line texture, exuding a calming and impressionistic quality. "Gentle Ghost of the Past" is filled with augmented seconds in harmony and melody, crafting an exotic Middle Eastern-like texture. These three pieces, each in a distinct style, harmonize beautifully due to Chris's masterful performances.

The album concludes with "Lament" by Ellen Taaffe Zwilich, a powerful and emotive piece that serves as a fitting conclusion to this incredible musical journey. Chris's expressive performance captures the depth and tragedy of the composition, leaving a lasting impression.

"Still Waters" is a monumental production, featuring 14 pieces from different composers in various styles. What ties them all together is the exceptional and virtuosic performance by Chris Opperman. He skillfully brings all these pieces under the same roof, creating a sense of harmony and continuity throughout the album. It's a musical tapestry rich in diversity, where expressions flow seamlessly and are beautifully interconnected.

In addition to Chris's remarkable talent as a pianist, it's worth noting that he has made significant contributions to the music industry as a composer, orchestrator, and arranger. He has also been a trusted advisor to various artists, including Mike Keneally. Chris's dedication to his craft and his ability to create breathtaking music is evident in "Still Waters."

For those looking to experience a superb collection of solo piano recordings that can both warm their heart and chill their soul on a cold winter's night, "Still Waters" by Chris Opperman is a must-listen.

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