In my enthusiastic piece on veteran pianist/composer Christopher Boscole’s exquisite, stylistically eclectic 2019 piano solo collection Dawn of Love, I was inspired to offer a detailed overview of his career that dates back to the mid-80s and a whole different era of new age music.
His blend of originals, classical pieces, sacred Christmas songs (some of which he had previously recorded) and the modern pop classical standard “Time to Say Goodbye” was intriguing and daring for a genre whose artists usually stick to a single theme, but I was endlessly fascinated at his ability to create a cohesive and passionate statement drawing from so many influences. The album almost seemed like a greatest hits compilation, with him sharing all the joys of his musical life – except maybe jazz, which is also a significant part of his background.
As much as I loved what I termed “this unique potpourri styled recording,” it’s wonderful to hear Boscole share the depth of his love for classical music on his latest release, Isle of Shadows – A New Age of Classical Piano. A long awaited sequel to his 2014 set A New Age of Classical Piano, the stunning 12 track set once again finds him sharing his passion for Debussy (this time via his thoughtful, reflective and at times whimsical “Preludes, book 1 L. 117”) and Chopin (a sensual and seductive, slightly haunting twist on “24 Preludes, Op. 28: No 17 in A-Flat Major”).
While the first collection included four pieces each by Debussy and Chopin, the pianist expands his repertoire significantly on Isle of Shadows, inviting us to enjoy a more sweeping take on his classical background, which included studies with classical pianist Mikiko Mayamoto. The journey begins with the soulful charms of Gabriel Faure’s “Romance Sans Paroles in Ab Major, Op. 17 No. 3” and later includes another Faure piece, the moody, hypnotic “Pavane, Op. 50.” Along the way, Boscole graces us with freshly inspired takes on two familiar Beethoven classics (“Sonata No. 8 Op. 13” and “Sonata No. 14 in C-Sharp Minor”), a mystical immersion in Selim Palmgren’s “6 Lyric Pieces, Op. 28” (subtitled “Isle of Shadows”), Bach’s stark yet slyly romantic “Suite No. 3 in D Major II:Air” and Schumann’s mournful, introspective “Kinderszenen, Op. 15: No. 7.”
In addition to Boscole’s multitude of creative arrangements of gems by these traditional classical composers, he throws us a fascinating curveball by including, late in the tracking, a colorful swirl through Scott Joplin’s elegant and swaying Ragtime hit “Solace” – perhaps the best rendition since Marvin Hamlisch memorably arranged it for “The Sting” soundtrack in the 70s. It comes from a completely different canon, but Boscole makes it feel like a seamless inclusion. It also adds a touch of whimsy to balance out the handful of more somber traditional pieces.
This being Boscole, one of new age’s most prolific composers, he also holds his own among the timeless masters with his sweet, nostalgic, (and more than a tad melancholy) original closer “Till We Meet Again,” which artfully creates a darkness and light energy with a high register melody easing over darker chords, almost like shards of sunlight teasing openings in the grey clouds Anyone familiar with his recent discography knows that this meeting will come sooner than later and be welcomed with open ears.