Based on the passionate and romantic Schubert piece “Serenade” (composed in 1826), Ukranian born classical pianist Sophia Agranovich and Indian virtuoso Rupam Sarmah’s sensually exotic, deeply meditational and subtly uplifting “Love Serenade” is a hypnotic multi-cultural expression of pure, unconditional Universal Love that offers, for the as yet uninitiated, a wonderful and highly unique introduction to the talents and musical aesthetics of these two impactful veteran artists.
Called a “tigress of the keyboard” by Fanfare, the multi-award winning Agranovich has performed throughout the U.S., Europe, Israel and Canada. Since 2010, she has released 11 critically acclaimed albums (dedicated to the works of Beethoven, Chopin, Liszt, Schubert, Brahms and others), many of which have charted on One World Music Radio and the World Top Radio Airplay charts. Sarmah is a musician, filmmaker, entrepreneur, author, sound engineer and computer scientist who made the Guinness Book of World Records for his project A Musical Journey for World Peace, which united more than 500 participants from across the globe playing 315 musical instruments in the cause of world peace.
“Love Serenade” is a sequel of sorts to Agranovich and Sarmah’s first collaboration, “Peace and Joy,” a dynamic improvisation and arrangement of timeless classics by Mozart and Mendelssohn that brought together classical, romantic, folk, pop, world and new age music in an artful fusion of music traditions from East and West. The two artists were brought together by Grammy winning producer Kevin Mackie, who wanted her to record a Mozart piece for a globally conscious children’s album (sponsored by One Little Finger Global Foundation) titled Arise Together.
Interestingly, Agranovich recorded a piano accompaniment for the track “Children of the World” that included kids from her childhood music school in Ukraine. She suggested Mozart’s “Turkish March” (3rd movement from Sonata in A Major). In meeting with Sarmah, who was tasked with mastering the track, the idea came up to add world instruments with improvisations – something that had never been done in classical music. In addition to appearing on the first volume of the Arise Together series in 2022, “Peace and Joy” – featuring the ethereal vocalizations of Tamra Garrett, became a popular single in its own right, played on classical and other genre stations.
Fulfilling a musical mission to embody the artists’ belief that “Love is a creative and sustaining energy of life,” “Love’s Serenade” begins with a wash of Grammy winning guest santoor artist Hamid Saeidi’s mystical strings heralding epic sonic concepts to come and opening the proverbial door to a fantastical swirl of those strings, Agranovich’s elegant and impassioned melody and guest Lili Haydn’s caressing violin. The piece then settles into a tender, eloquent showcase for Agranovich, punctuated every so often by Sarmah’s emphatic exotica and Haydn’s gentle sway, which in turn give way to a darker tone underscored by a haunting cello element.
One of the most compelling aspects of “Love’s Serenade” is the seductive night/day, darkness and light dance by the cello and violin – as if to illustrate the duality of love, the euphoria, harmony and potential for freedom it offers balanced by the challenging realities of the human condition. As the piece progresses, Agranovich alternates moods via a soft, easily melodic flow and harder, more brooding chords.
About four minutes in, there’s a moment where Saeidi meets her sparking chords with snappy, resonant strings, adding depth and tension that ultimately, with the help of Haydn’s sweet and sly violin, leads to sheer harmony and beauty winning out – capturing that magical feeling that love, whether personal or universal in nature, whatever obstacles in the way, always wins.
As if to emphasize the point, Agranovich shares some of her most powerful dark-tinged chords, followed by a blissful, graceful "sigh" and a mix of dynamic high register glissandos punctuated by the plucky strings towards the very end.
It’s a six and half minute classical global journey for the ages – and hopefully just the latest in a series of dual projects by Agranovich and Sarmah!