“Letters From Far Away” is pianist/composer Heidi Breyer’s fourth album and is a two-disc set. Both discs contain the same eleven pieces – one as solo piano and one as a piano and instrumental collaboration with some of the stellar musicians from Will Ackerman’s Imaginary Road Studio. Even though the tracks are the same and play in the same order, the discs are actually quite different from each other. Breyer says in the liner notes that her original concept for the project was to do her first solo piano album where each track would stand on its own. As development went on, she imagined a violin here and a cello there and pretty soon another album was taking shape. The result is the same story told in two different ways. The story itself is about Breyer’s parents’ meeting and subsequent life together as well as how it is love that binds the past and the future and gives meaning to the present.
It is always obvious when listening to Breyer’s music that it comes from the depths of her heart and soul – honest, graceful, and very beautiful. Most of the pieces on “Letters From Far Away” are quiet and pensive, reflecting on the idea that you can see through time to the origin of things beyond your own beginning. I really don’t prefer one disc over the other – they are both masterpieces. The solo piano version seems more personal and intimate and is also easier to have in the background, but the ensemble recordings all have personal touches from the other musicians that create a very rich and satisfying musical experience that deepens with each listen.
Breyer has been involved in music all her life through dance, drama and music study at the Arts Educational School and Trinity College of Music in the UK. As a result, she is completely at one with the piano and plays with an elegant, expressive touch that can clearly communicate whatever she chooses to share with us. Some of the other musicians who appear on the album include Will Ackerman (guitar), Jill Haley (English horn), Eugene Friesen (cello), Charlie Bisharat (violin), Billy Novick (clarinet and sax), and Noah Wilding (vocals) – all artists in their own right who make this album something very special.
“Letters From Far Away” is a wonderful project that should once again propel Heidi Breyer to the top of the charts while touching her listeners very deeply! Very highly recommended!