Imaginary Picnic (CD)



IMAGINARY PICNIC – Read the review by Kathy Parsons – Mainly

Imaginary Picnic is another stellar offering from Canadian pianist/composer Eric Harry. A bit lighter in mood and dreamier than the other three of his albums that I have reviewed recently, Imaginary Picnic evokes visions of warm sunny afternoons with gentle breezes and the time to daydream. The Toronto String Quartet heightens the passion in some places and adds soft pastel washes of tonal color in others to accentuate Harry’s smooth, graceful piano. This is a wonderful album to listen to with full attention, but it is quiet and unobtrusive enough to serve as a backdrop for reading, working on the computer, an elegant or casual dinner, driving, or just about anything you can think of. Focusing on innocence and the gentle side of life, Harry tells a charming story without becoming cloying or overly sentimental.

Imaginary Picnic begins with “Lifespan of a Raindrop.” The piano stays mostly in the upper and middle registers of the piano, playing a simple melody over a flowing accompaniment. The strings on this one are played as background washes that help to create the wistful mood. “Watching Bluebirds Fly” conveys the sense of freedom one experiences watching birds’ effortless flight in a vast open sky as well as the bittersweet question of “why oh why can’t I?” The title song is a tranquil daydream that becomes more dramatic in the middle with the strings swelling to new heights and then returning to tenderness. “Canoe Sonata” is a favorite. It begins with a slow, easy piano solo that’s as effortless as a canoe gliding on a pond. Strings (mostly cello) deepen the tonal colors as the piano continues to gracefully float – what a beautiful piece! “Chasing Fireflies” is a magical duet for piano and cello. The sensual flow of the cello is the perfect complement to the bright, percussive piano – lovely! Sweeping strings give “Wing Poetry” a cinematic quality that suggests green vistas and rolling hills. “Pendulum” and “Prairie Whistle” tug at the heartstrings with their graceful, bittersweet melodies and gentle musical thoughts. “Introspective Dream” looks inward, conveying peace of mind and calm. “Scent of Rain” is another favorite. Somewhat darker and more ambient than most of the rest of the album, you can almost smell the distinctive aroma of a coming storm and feel the changes in the wind. Bravo once again to Eric Harry – what an artist!