12 Songs, 41 Minutes

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Ratings and Reviews

5.0 out of 5
3 Ratings

3 Ratings

CandiceMichelle1 ,

Melodically bright yet inherently soothing

Masako is a pianist and composer who resides in the Northeastern part of the USA. Having begun piano lessons at the age of four, by the time she was five years old she was composing and singing her own tunes while up on a tree in the backyard of her parents’ home in Tokyo, Japan. Comprised of twelve solo piano compositions, Piano Sanctuary is Masako’s third studio album and first solo piano album, with all three having been produced by Will Ackerman and recorded at his Imaginary Road Studios in Vermont.

Introducing the album is “When You Were Little”, which opens with a gentle simplicity. Soon transitioning into more melodically complex passages, the piece ultimately concludes with the gentle theme established at the beginning. Sitting among Masako’s most beloved compositions is “A Tale of Lonely Otter”, which originally appeared on her debut self-titled album, and likewise appears here as a solo piano rendition. One of my favorites on the album, this delicately heartfelt and somewhat wistful composition opens with a pacing that brings-to-mind Erik Satie’s famous classic, “Three Gymnopedies”. Other highlights include “The Land We Called Hope”, which features staccato notes in the upper range of the piano that beautifully beckon the listener’s attention, as well as “Frozen Quarry”, which is the second composition herein to have a Satie feel with its shifting tonal colors. Returning to familiar ground is the closing piece, “Tender Stories”, with its cascading notes in the bass register and twinkling notes in the upper register. Further showcasing a middle section that pleasingly reminds me of David Lanz’ fine “Song for Monet”, Masako’s touch on this piece is indeed quite tender.

A lovely album inspired by nature and landscape that’s infused with the personal touch of human life experiences, Masako seemingly imprints her thoughts and feelings, in combination with observations of the natural world around her, into a musical diary. Melodically bright yet inherently soothing with an airy, open feel, fans of Masako’s previous outputs will likely find this album to be another welcome addition to their collection!

KathyPiano7 ,

From MainlyPiano

Masako’s third album is solo piano at its very best. A lyrical, graceful and very expressive blending of classical, new age and smooth jazz stylings, Piano Sanctuary provides a warm and soothing escape from the craziness of our contemporary world. Like her first two albums, "Piano Sanctuary" was co-produced with Will Ackerman and Tom Eaton and was recorded at Ackerman’s Imaginary Road Studios in Vermont. A Japanese-born pianist and composer living in the northeastern United States, Masako started taking piano lessons at the age of four. She belonged to Music House Moz in Japan and performed in clubs in and around Tokyo as a keyboardist. She also taught at the Yamaha Music School for many years as a certified piano instructor. Her debut album, "MASAKO," won Zone Music Reporter’s “Best New Artist of 2013” and her second album, "Call of the Mountain," won ZMR’s “Best Piano Album of 2014.” I have no doubt that "Piano Sanctuary" will also be recognized as one of the best albums of this year.

"Piano Sanctuary" begins with “When You Were Little,” a lovely piece of wordless story-telling. Sometimes sweetly nostalgic and sometimes a bit more dramatic, it’s a great opener that immediately draws the listener in. “Ragrima” is very dreamy and peaceful, highlighting Masako’s velvety touch on the piano keyboard. “The Bird and The River” is a favorite. My interpretation is that the gently flowing, but steadily moving passages are the river (mostly the left hand) and the more dramatic and fluttery parts are descriptive of the bird flying above the water and sometimes touching down - perhaps in search of a fish. Love it! “Midnight Sun” is both very elegant and very peaceful with a spare melody and the use of some evocative jazz harmonies - gorgeous! “A Tale of Lonely Otter” first appeared on Masako’s debut album as an ensemble piece, but it is a piano solo here - and a beautiful one at that! Another favorite is “Sailing,” a higher-energy piece with an exhilarating sense of adventure and freedom. “The Lost Estate” tells us another story without the use of words. Sometimes a lyrical waltz, the graceful rhythms and gentle melodies combine to tell a bittersweet tale. “Frozen Quarry” sounds brutal, but even though it expresses a chill, the scene is peaceful and serene. “Tender Stories” overflows with love as it brings this excellent album to a close.

I really think Masako’s third album is her best (so far!) and I hope more of her albums will be solo piano! Very highly recommended!