Letters from Far Away By Heidi Breyer
Written by Steve Sheppard
I sit and gaze at a picture of an old river that I use to spend time with my dad fishing on, the memories that it evokes within me are so loving and special, but that time has passed and long gone, but a resonance of happy times and loves shared still abounds, the essence of this album for me has a similar value placed upon it. The music of Heidi Breyer is not just special, but thought provoking and filled with truth, love and remembrances and also shimmering reflections of a sparkling beauty.
Breyer is a rare talent, one that can paint virtual pictures with her music and I am so grateful to be able to review this amazing new album called Letters from Far Away. This album comes in two parts, a solo piano album and a piano with instrumentation album, giving you the choice as your mood sees fit.
The opening track is like opening a door to an old room that has not been used for decades, only to find the memories in there still live with the happiness and simplicity that they once were a reality in. There is something simple, but moving about this piece, the strings and added instrumentation are divine and starts us on a journey through the past, with a delightful reflection of days long gone.
Small Cafe is a lovely composition, I relate to this myself, as my thoughts lately have been one of revisiting our own Small Cafe back in Cyprus when we get home. The busy motif of this track is evident, but performed by Breyer in such a way that it never loses its initial meaning and purpose, the tempo is almost the paint brush here, as it quickly creates for us a real life picture of this Cafe of the past with skill and a deftness of hand.
1960 is up next, a small photograph, a grainy image of love and a heart’s desire is all spoken here in the music, the strings bring a real heart rendering quality to the album that is deeply emotional, you will also find dear reader, that all the way through this quite spectacular recording, you will feel a deep well of emotion rising up within you. 1960 as a track has a dream like pace to it, that will pull you back through the corridors of time itself.
The fourth piece is equally sublime it is called First Impression. There is something quite ambient and still about this composition, even though Breyer’s composition is at times lively in its approach, she has created something almost inner dimensional here, the added vocalizations on this track are absolutely perfect for the subject matter, a quite beautiful piece.
We now move to another time and place, no pun intended, but to a track called Old Photograph. Once more the sumptuous strings here add a layer of time felt magic into the weave of this almost danceable track. Time hovers and still reflects its energies in photographs, I personally still find it hard to look at the past through pictures, but Breyer’s music in this composition may go some way to healing this for me, a piece filled with a reflective essence, a track created with a happiness of positive memories of a path already taken.
The longest piece on the album is called Touchstone. The tempo of this track is initially upbeat, but falls majestically into a quiet phase of reflection, within this composition one can feel the growing passion of a love that needs to flourish, that undeniable truth that all of us have either sampled or are going to. This is a clever track, carefully constructed and very carefully composed and one can almost feel Heidi Breyer’s very soul performing the music, this heartfelt opus of unconditional love. This is one piece dear reader and listener, you are going to want to listen to many times over and I am guessing one that Breyer herself would probably be very proud of.
So, now for the title track, Letters from Far Away, I am always eager to hear the signature piece as I personally believe it says everything about the album and here Breyer does that in style, the track though has an essence or mournfulness about it, a longing and deep sigh of a need to be one, whole again. Letters from Far Away is quite stunning and works on a multi layered front, it creates an amazing, and almost film like scene in the mind’s eye, the narrative here is deeply moving and well performed.
We move to Welton, this for those of you who don’t know, is a place in the East of Yorkshire in England. This is a county I have travelled to myself quite frequently and can be quite beautiful in the summer months, but pretty harsh during the winter time. Breyer grew up in this town and you can almost feel the energy of those days in her music, the inclusion of the guitar on this piece was subtle and well performed.
There is always time for a classic and you don’t get much more classic than Scarborough Fair. In this instance this connection with this album is totally relevant and it brought back memories for me of time spent in this seaside town, the summer winds blew favourably on our family on those days. This piece is once again packed with a reflective vibrancy that not only relives memories of the past, but illustrates the area perfectly and my I say this is a highly original arrangement that should be applauded for its freshness.
Dear reader and listener, we now move to the penultimate piece off this quite emotional album, it is called No Man is an Island. That title and statement is of course very true and I feel entirely the same way as I prepare to leave England, the country of my birth, to fly free and start again. This is striking and so moving, the added brass on this piece is memory packed and shows a deeply felt migration of style from the past to the present, again Breyer’s work is so brilliantly composed and thought-out it stands her high amongst her peers.
We now have come to the end of our journey with Heidi Breyer, but before she leaves us, she has one more track she would like you to let yourselves be immersed in, it’s called Starry Pond. The oasis of life’s rich pattern, the fabric of the weave of time and tide, the slow ambient nature of this track creates a star filled moment of universal beauty and love, of each and every second lived, loved and deeply felt, a simply magnificent way to leave an album of outstanding natural beauty.
The last track would have been an ideal soundtrack to have ended those days with my father, and while the river still flows into eternity, each and every one of us should immerse ourselves in beauty, in love, in truth and allow yourself to feel each segment of your days on this planet and with the album Letters from Far Away, you now have the perfect soundtrack with which to do so. I don’t simply recommend this album, I really beg you not to miss out on a creation of stunning beauty, and it includes masters of their trade, such as Will Ackerman on Guitar, Jill Haley on horn, Charlie Bisharat on Violin, Eugene Friesen on Cello and many other incredible musicians who team up with Breyer to bring you something that is musically totally outstanding.
A new release by Heidi Breyer is always worth waiting for, but this time she has out done herself and her deeply meaningful creation of Letters from far Away, will be regarded by her fans and the followers of piano based music, as real raising of the musical bar, her many listeners, of which I urge you to be one of, will be deeply moved for an eternity by this incredible release.