Recorded, engineered and mixed by Stuart Hamilton at Castlesound Studios, Pencaitland, Scotland, January 2016
Mastered by Tyler McDiarmid, NYC, April 2016
Produced by Euan Stevenson, Konrad Wiszniewski & Michael Owers
Executive Produer - Michael Janisch
released August 19, 2016
ABOUT THE ALBUM
Scottish pianist/composer Euan Stevenson and saxophonist/composer Konrad Wiszniewski continue their musical collaboration New Focus with a second album New Focus On Song for Whirlwind Recordings. After the critical success of their first release which featured a unique blend of classical, jazz and Scottish Folk that was shortlisted for the 2012 Scottish Album of the Year Award, the pair have established themselves as leading lights on the burgeoning creative music scene in Scotland.
Much of the acclaim received to date for New Focus has centred on the pair’s ability to write beautiful, haunting melodies where every piece in the sequel balances emotional power with exquisite craftsmanship. Stevenson provides the majority of the compositions and orchestrations and largely employs the subtle palette of the first album (jazz quartet, string quartet and harp), further enriching these textures with the addition of woodwind. Wiszniewski solos on both tenor and soprano saxophones throughout, while on ensemble passages he and his wife Nicola Wiszniewska a provide orchestral colour on clarinet and flute respectively with Alina Bzhezhinska once more featured on concert harp.
The resulting chamber music is rich and varied. Both composers pay tribute to their young daughters with heartfelt musical letters dedicated to each; but sensitivity and sweetness is balanced with hard edged improvising on the fast swinging 'Corea Change' and the angular and spiky 'Fourths Ostinato', whilst the folky 'Green Park' and 'Sophia’s Song' (with Wiszniewski on Celtic whistle) leave the listener in no doubt as to the composers’ heritage. That being said, the Gallic influence of Debussy, Satie and Ravel is never far away - tracks like 'Ascension' and 'Braeside' are a unique blend of French impressionism and jazz, a testament to Stevenson’s versatility as a composer/performer who is able to move seamlessly between idioms. This holistic approach is moreover exemplified in the two short improvised solo piano vignettes which appear as sparkling contrasts to the full ensemble dynamic.
Alive to every textural nuance is drummer/percussionist Alyn Cosker, hooking up splendidly with the ever supportive bassist Andrew Robb. Indeed, the Glasgow String Quartet, all members of the Royal Scottish National Orchestra, are used to working in perfect synergy, and from start to finish all the players on this genre-defying album appear to breathe joyfully as one, a powerful demonstration of accessible, creative music making in the 21st century.