The world needs more Chrono albums; it also needs more piano music. Laura Intravia preps a mouthwatering entrée mixed with both of these ingredients and slides that dish right in front of us. It takes great effort not to throw this savory meal into the air and catch it in my mouth, inhaling it in one gulp. However, for you, my readers, I’ll constrain myself and go over some parts of this power meal in minor detail.
One thing to keep in mind before even listening to this album is that Intravia refers to these arrangements as “little tone poems” on her website, and I agree that is how you should approach the music on this album. If you come expecting each track on the album to represent one track arranged from one of the Chrono OSTs, you’ll find yourself a little confused. That’s okay, though, because what they deliver instead is a richer experience, between Laura Intravia’s handling of the music and Brendon Shapiro’s poetic piano performance.
The first piece you are greeted with is “The Cogs of Fate,” a medley of “Chrono Trigger” “A Premonition,” and “Yearnings of the Wind.” I like that Intravia chooses to grace your ears by starting with “Yearnings of the Wind.” My ears swoon upon hearing this delicate, yet melancholic, introduction to the track. Mysteriously, while hearing the chordal portion of Yearnings, I imagine a black background with sketched gray areas fading in and out, one by one. Within these areas are prominent moments of Chrono Trigger’s story which then dissipate at 1:38, clearing the fog of images and revealing “A Premonition.” This section acts in a familiar way: as the introduction and springboard to the exciting main theme, “Chrono Trigger.” Both sections are lovely and very pleasing on the ears. Be sure to keep your ears perked until the very end, as you may hear a fragment of a familiar piece.
Shapiro, I blow a kiss to your piano performance in the next track, “Souls of the Forest,” because of your incredible control over the notes. Sempre dolce. What I love most about this arrangement — and bless both Shapiro & Intravia for — is that it breathes. What do I mean exactly? It’s very easy to saturate a piano piece with suspended notes, woven together with additional melodic/chordal lines occurring simultaneously. There’s nothing wrong with that, but then there are moments like 1:30-1:42 where they let go of those notes, change dynamics, and let the music exhale. It’s very satisfying to hear moments like that, including sections in the piece where the music completely drops out for contrast (5:12). Beautiful.
“The Enlightened One” is an arrangement imbued with the mystery and wonder of “Schala’s Theme” and “Corridor of Time.” I am quite pleased by the manner this arrangement plays out — both tracks transitioning into one another, taking turns to shimmer. Allowing my imagination to wander, I could see the floating paradise in air while Schala walked the halls of that magical, ill-fated realm. The performance itself is — without question — lovely, but what I enjoyed the most in “The Enlightened One” is the actual arrangement itself. One particular section that I found very pleasing comes at 1:51-2:10. This area is quite exotic, and it offers a very refreshing approach to Corridor that causes the ears to tingle with excitement. Also, that descending line at 2:09 is simply criminal (please, more of that)!
It isn’t until the last arrangement, “Radical Dreamers,” where Intravia graces our ears with her vocal performance. Sweet and soothing are the tones that ring throughout this track, especially those that take flight through the higher singing register starting around 3:36. The piano arrangement and performance for this piece is as calming as Intravia’s singing — perhaps even enough to lull some to a quiet slumber. Dolce.
I am completely enamored with this album. Unfortunately, I should stop my doting over it, as I fear that if I chose to write in greater detail about the rest, the nature of this piece would no longer be that of a review. My thanks go to Intravia and Shapiro for allowing this enjoyable album to exist — but especially for allowing it to breathe. With that said, I request that you take the time to listen to this album and perhaps meet me in the boards to chat about it.