Ronald Van Deurzen is a pianist, composer & music teacher from The Netherlands. He grew up playing the piano and organ, played proficiently by ear by age 10, and composed his first piece of music when he was just 11 years old. These days, in addition to composing for film and documentary, he writes thoughtful and contemplative New Age music. Showing the influences of Nordic, Celtic and Asian world music in addition to classical and jazz, his music is atmospheric and memorable.
His latest release, “Imaginations,” is a piano-driven instrumental album. Composed over a number of years, these songs sprang from the composer’s extensive travel throughout Sweden, experiencing the eclectic beauty of the many natural wonders found there. Each song is in effect a musical snapshot from nature and takes the listener on an awe-inspiring musical journey.
The opening track, “Little Falling Flake,” effectively evokes a gentle winter snow; “Early Years” is a reflection on the composer’s childhood. “Moon Flower,” a favorite, is a solo piano piece with a light jazzy feel, with an improvisational right-hand melody over an ostinato left-hand pattern. Like the flowers this piece is named for, this music suggests that creative blooming can spring out of darkness. In the dreamy “The Beaches of Heaven,” ocean sounds are added to the orchestration, and piano cascades ripple across the keyboard like waves crashing against the shoreline. Church bells, vocals and percussion are layered in next; the effect is that of a joyous celestial beach party. “First Lights” paints a picture of a spectacular sunrise; in “Midsommar Känsla” (“Midsummer Feeling”), another favorite, night sounds are added to the mix – crickets, tree frogs, an owl in the distance – and I was instantly transported to a starry night on my back porch in July. “Come Back Because I Love You” is plaintive and melodic; I could easily imagine lyrics added to this one.
“Winterdrops” (“Snowdrops”) are the first flowers to bloom at the end of winter and this lighthearted piece evokes the hope they represent. l first listened to “Autumn Park” on a glorious day in October; the sky was pure blue, the sun was shining bright, and this virtuosic number causes the heart soar just like a perfect autumn day. Over seven minutes long, “Momentum Figures” is the longest track on the album but not a single note is wasted. An effective blend of a variety of styles and instruments, it can be described as a musical tapestry comprised of myriad scenes, moods, and feelings. It is in turn gentle, boisterous, and joy-filled and bears repeated listening. The album concludes with “Stuck in a Dream,” a mysterious and haunting number that put me in mind of the music of Ravel. Although light orchestration is added later in the piece, the beautiful solo piano always occupies center stage, bringing the listener’s travels to a delightful close.
“Imaginations” is an eminently satisfying musical journey. Very highly recommended!