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Music Review: Danielpour's The Enchanted Garden


The Enchanted Garden is an amazing album that contains two sets of piano preludes based on the dreams and memories of Richard Danielpour.  The diversity of the pieces is amazing, and not many modern composers are as daring as he is. 

Richard Danielpour was born in 1956 and studied at Oberlin College, New England Conservatory of Music and Julliard School of Music.  He was sought after for as a great piano player and composer even during college when his first piano concerto was commissioned.  Currently, Danielpour teaches at the Manhattan School of Music and the Curtis Institiute.

This album ranges from quiet and mysterious to a piano’s imitation of the rowdiness of Mardi Gras in New Orleans.  The control that Danielpour has for the piano to play such a range of emotions is absolutely incredible.  It is obvious that he had images in his mind while he was composing these pieces, and the insert gives some insight into the dreams of this amazing composer. 

Some of the highlights on this album include “Mardi Gras” and “Elegy”.  Mardi Gras is based on a crazy dream where the Berlin Philharmonic are dancing and marching down the streets in the French Quarter.  This piece was lively and realistic, and portrayed the dream in a way I never thought a piano would be able to.  “Elegy” is piece about longing and written in Paris about his former teacher’s loss of his longtime companion.  In “Elegy” the sadness seeps through and the image of walking slowly alone along the Seine is clear. 

This set of preludes is not a group of movements, and every piece stands on its own.  In this way it is almost a hilarious transition from extremely sad pieces like “Elegy” to the next prelude on the alum, “Lean Kat Stride”, a swing-style piece about his wife’s quick wit and sense of humor. 

Xiayin Wang, the pianist whom these preludes were commissioned for, does a marvelous job pulling off the emotions and technical difficulties that Danielpour inserts into every piece.  All of the preludes are prefect and Wang is an incredible pianist and her interpretations of these pieces are true to Danielpour’s ideas. 

This album was fun as it tackled images that are not usually seen in classical music.  Danielpour and Wang are both great musicians, and that is the reason The Enchanted Garden is so great.  Though not as well known, Danielpour holds the same exclusive contract from Sony Classical that both Stravinsky and Copland have.  Based on this album, Danielpour needs to be a name that everyone recognizes and associates with great music.