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Lara Downes|Love at Last

Love at Last

Lara Downes

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A recent episode of the U.S. National Public Radio program This American Life on the theme of delight described itself as "radical counterprogramming," given the grim realities that impinge on everyday life nowadays. Something of the same is true of Lara Downes' Love at Last (the title and the general theme are furnished by a poem of writer Shaul Tchernichovsky), comprising pieces embodying in one way or another how love, at last, can address the various ills of the world. That is a big job, but there are some striking pieces here, especially effective if one reads the notes by Downes and some of the composers about them. Jaroslav Ježek's Dawn, one learns, was played on Prague radio during the Nazi occupation as a coded message of resistance, and when Downes played it at the Czech Embassy in Washington, she found her older listeners in tears. Many of the pieces are contemporary; a majority are world premieres, and they come from many countries and a great variety of sources, from traditional composition to popular song, jazz, and various national traditions. All of them have crossed Downes' personal path in some way, and the most remarkable thing here, to borrow a phrase from DJ culture, is the segues. Those who have heard Downes live know of her ability to weave the most diverse materials into a coherent statement, and that is just what she does here. Sample the natural way Sammy Fain's I'll Be Seeing You flows into Dobrinka Tabakova's Simple Prayer for Complex Times. This release marks Downes' debut on the PentaTone label, and one hopes that European distribution and publicity will bring her success similar to what she has experienced in the U.S.
© James Manheim /TiVo

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Love at Last

Lara Downes

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1
Dawn (Arr. J. Siskind for Solo Piano)
00:01:29

Jaroslav Jezek, Composer - Lara Downes, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Jeremy Siskind, Arranger

2023 PENTATONE 2023 (P) PENTATONE

2
Wachet auf, ruft uns die Stimme, BWV 645 (Arr. I. Friedman for Solo Piano)
00:03:21

Johann Sebastian Bach, Composer - Ignaz Friedman, Arranger - Lara Downes, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer

2023 PENTATONE 2023 (P) PENTATONE

3
Laugh at All My Dreams (Arr. J. Siskind for Solo Piano)
00:02:36

Lara Downes, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Debbie Friedman, Composer - Jeremy Siskind, Arranger

2023 PENTATONE 2023 (P) PENTATONE

Credo (Margaret Bonds)

4
No. 2, I Believe (Arr. L. Downes for Solo Piano)
00:02:35

Margaret Bonds, Composer - Lara Downes, Arranger, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer

2023 PENTATONE 2023 (P) PENTATONE

5
A World of Change
00:03:22

Clarice Assad, Composer - Lara Downes, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer

2023 PENTATONE 2023 (P) PENTATONE

6
Little Love (Version for Piano)
00:03:16

Gabriel Kahane, Composer - Lara Downes, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer

2023 PENTATONE 2023 (P) PENTATONE

7
Frühlingsglaube, D. 686 (Arr. A. Horn for Solo Piano)
00:03:20

Franz Schubert, Composer - Lara Downes, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - August Horn, Arranger

2023 PENTATONE 2023 (P) PENTATONE

8
Tree of Life
00:03:58

Lara Downes, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Iván Enrique Rodríguez, Composer

2023 PENTATONE 2023 (P) PENTATONE

9
Earth
00:02:14

Karen Tanaka, Composer - Lara Downes, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer

2023 PENTATONE 2023 (P) PENTATONE

10
It Only Ever Rains in November
00:03:19

Lara Downes, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Nyokabi Kariuki, Composer

2023 PENTATONE 2023 (P) PENTATONE

11
Even This Laughter; Even Your Tears
00:04:26

Lara Downes, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - DeVon Russell Gray, Composer

2023 PENTATONE 2023 (P) PENTATONE

12
By Loving You (Arr. L. Bellido for Solo Piano)
00:02:22

Lara Downes, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Jimmy López Bellido, Composer, Arranger

2023 PENTATONE 2023 (P) PENTATONE

13
Fluid
00:03:48

Lara Downes, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Sean Hickey, Composer

2023 PENTATONE 2023 (P) PENTATONE

14
Meeting Point
00:02:45

Lara Downes, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Calliope Tsoupaki, Composer

2023 PENTATONE 2023 (P) PENTATONE

15
Parting Friends
00:03:23

Lara Downes, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Timo Andres, Composer

2023 PENTATONE 2023 (P) PENTATONE

16
I’ll Be Seeing You (Arr. M. Mayz for Solo Piano)
00:02:43

Sammy Fain, Composer - Lara Downes, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Mariel Mayz, Arranger

2023 PENTATONE 2023 (P) PENTATONE

17
Simple Prayer for Complex Times
00:05:27

Lara Downes, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Dobrinka Tabakova, Composer, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer

2023 PENTATONE 2023 (P) PENTATONE

18
Blessing
00:03:20

Lara Downes, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Patricio Molina, Composer

2023 PENTATONE 2023 (P) PENTATONE

19
Crown Thy Good
00:05:20

Vijay Iyer, Composer - Lara Downes, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer

2023 PENTATONE 2023 (P) PENTATONE

20
Healer
00:02:56

Lara Downes, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Milad Yousufi, Composer

2023 PENTATONE 2023 (P) PENTATONE

21
Mirror the Stars
00:01:27

Lara Downes, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Juhi Bansal, Composer

2023 PENTATONE 2023 (P) PENTATONE

22
Bright Night
00:02:51

Lara Downes, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Hooshyar Khayam, Composer

2023 PENTATONE 2023 (P) PENTATONE

23
Lullaby
00:02:42

Valentin Silvestrov, Composer - Lara Downes, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer

2023 PENTATONE 2023 (P) PENTATONE

24
Amazing Grace (Arr. S.E. Okpebholo for Solo Piano)
00:02:58

Traditional, Composer - Lara Downes, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Shawn E. Okpebholo, Arranger

2023 PENTATONE 2023 (P) PENTATONE

25
Audio Commentary
00:02:23

Lara Downes, Composer, Lyricist, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer

2023 PENTATONE 2023 (P) PENTATONE

Album review

A recent episode of the U.S. National Public Radio program This American Life on the theme of delight described itself as "radical counterprogramming," given the grim realities that impinge on everyday life nowadays. Something of the same is true of Lara Downes' Love at Last (the title and the general theme are furnished by a poem of writer Shaul Tchernichovsky), comprising pieces embodying in one way or another how love, at last, can address the various ills of the world. That is a big job, but there are some striking pieces here, especially effective if one reads the notes by Downes and some of the composers about them. Jaroslav Ježek's Dawn, one learns, was played on Prague radio during the Nazi occupation as a coded message of resistance, and when Downes played it at the Czech Embassy in Washington, she found her older listeners in tears. Many of the pieces are contemporary; a majority are world premieres, and they come from many countries and a great variety of sources, from traditional composition to popular song, jazz, and various national traditions. All of them have crossed Downes' personal path in some way, and the most remarkable thing here, to borrow a phrase from DJ culture, is the segues. Those who have heard Downes live know of her ability to weave the most diverse materials into a coherent statement, and that is just what she does here. Sample the natural way Sammy Fain's I'll Be Seeing You flows into Dobrinka Tabakova's Simple Prayer for Complex Times. This release marks Downes' debut on the PentaTone label, and one hopes that European distribution and publicity will bring her success similar to what she has experienced in the U.S.
© James Manheim /TiVo

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