13 Songs, 1 Hour 5 Minutes


Ratings and Reviews

5.0 out of 5
2 Ratings

2 Ratings

KathyPiano7 ,

From MainlyPiano

"Soundscapes" is the eighth album from pianist/composer Deborah Offenhauser, an artist whose credits include playing with such diverse musicians as Isola Jones, The Moody Blues and Frankie Laine as well as having her music featured on TV shows like “Desperate Housewives,” “Madam Secretary” and “The Big Bang Theory.” Offenhauser’s music career spans more than thirty years and includes playing the piano for a number of touring Broadway shows as well as teaching. "Soundscapes" is my first experience (that I am aware of) with Offenhauser’s music, and I’m more than impressed with her versatility and the broad range of musical styles presented in the album’s thirteen tracks. Many of the pieces include nature sounds - birds, water, etc. - in addition to the piano and ensemble musicians. (I have to admit that I get a little tired of the nature sounds, but that’s just me.) Most pieces have an optimistic spirit and the majority of them are quite melodic. A few tracks are more abstract and atmospheric, but all thirteen have a colorful story to tell.

"Soundscapes" begins with “Decidedly Joyful,” one of my favorites on the album. Warm and relaxed with a smooth jazz vibe, the instrumentation includes piano, percussion, bass, flute and sax. Slinky, exotic and slightly mysterious, it’s a great opener! “Free Radical” begins quietly with a gentle rhythm, but about mid-way becomes much more vibrant and exciting and then returns to the quiet side with the sounds of water and birds as well as piano, strings, keyboard and light percussion. “Nothing Can Touch You Now” is very dreamy and atmospheric for the extended intro and then becomes a beautiful ballad for piano, strings, bass and light percussion - another favorite. “Irrational Exuberance” (great title!) is bright and, well, exuberant! Strings and flute join the piano in a playful exchange that expresses the pure joy of making music. “Tanz” takes on an Eastern vibe with gongs and other exotic instruments along with keyboard, piano, strings and voices. “Rosemont Theme” is a lovely piece for piano, strings, oboe and guitar. Graceful and often poignant, I really like this one, too! “Air” begins as an acoustic guitar solo, becoming a classically-styled duet with the piano, and later adding cello for an even more classical sound. “The Gloaming” is darker and more abstract — sounding like it would be appropriate in a scary movie. There are lots of sound effects in this one plus piano, cello, and a variety of percussion instruments. It shows another aspect of Offenhauser’s composing abilities, but it’s kind of weird! “It Is Written” is much calmer and more peaceful, with sounds of the ocean, guitar and orchestral instrumentation. The piano joins the ensemble later in the piece, which could easily be part of a soundtrack - also a favorite. “Tanninim (Sea Creatures)” is interesting and would probably be really effective with visuals, but is kind of dark and murky without them. “The Wonderful Unfoldment” also has a soundtrack feeling with soulful oboe and cello leading the way over other strings - a peaceful close to the album.

"Soundscapes" is a great introduction to the music of Deborah Offenhauser! Check it out!

CandiceMichelle1 ,

A versatile composer and performer

Deborah Offenhauser is a formally trained pianist and composer whose resume boasts an impressive list of accomplishments. Among these she has performed with renowned artists such as Isola Jones, The Four Lads, The Moody Blues and more, as well as having played piano with numerous Broadway shows. Additionally, Deborah’s music has landed various spots on television networks ABC, CBS and The Weather Channel in popular hit shows. More so, she is a highly versatile musician who also plays classical organ, mandolin, 5-string banjo, guitar and violin. Comprised of 13 compositions spanning a little over 65 minutes, Deborah’s latest album, Soundscapes, is a multi-instrumentalist ensemble project that integrates styles of jazz, classical, contemporary instrumental and world music while also incorporating elements of avant-garde and minimalist music.

“Decidedly Joyful” leads the album with a softly steady drumbeat and additional percussion possessing a tropical flair, which is subtly enhanced by the sound of ocean waves and sprinkling chimes. A leisurely, optimistic tune characterized by notable jazz influences, we’re soon introduced to an acoustic ensemble led by piano followed by saxophone and then ultimately flute. The next piece, “Free Radical”, incorporates classical strings that lend it a cinematic quality while also employing some buzzing synthesized textures along the way. Moving through different melodic and rhythmic phases, the piece transitions much like a short medley. The subsequent “Tanz” is my favorite composition on the album, beginning with nocturnal forest sounds and tinkling piano notes that immediately bring-to-mind a lush jungle. Resonating gong introduces Indian tabla and a subtle drumbeat, before an oboe ensues on lead melody playing an exotic, almost mid-eastern sounding scale, ultimately giving this world-tinged piece an intriguing journey-like feel. The minimalist “Spacial Palace” follows with ambient field noise that includes chirping birds, traffic sounds, human chatter and footsteps. More akin to a soundscape than a song, the piece is lightly adorned with various keyboard notes and effects, which eventually introduce a xylophone-type melody imbued with an East Asian feel. Next is “Through a Glass Darkly”, an elegant piece infused with neoclassical elements; it opens with singing birds and dreamy tonal waves that eventually lead into a more straightforward piano melody.

Appearing near the end of the album is another notable piece entitled “It Is Written”, which features piano, oboe and classical strings with soft brushes of acoustic guitar adding a perfect touch. Concluding with rolling waves and singing birds, the piece simultaneously conveys a sense of both solitary peace and tender romanticism. Following it up is “Tanninim”, another environmental passage characterized by chimes, string plucks and a repeating drum pulse throughout. And finally, the closing track, “The Wonderful Unfoldment of Blue”, reverts again to a more orchestral motif. Despite its title, the overall solemn, classical nature of this piece feels more visually evocative of vintage objects and photos in grainy black-and-white.

A musical chameleon of sorts, Deborah Offenhauser’s style is eclectic and hard to pigeonhole, which speaks to her versatility as both composer and performer. In conclusion, Soundscapes will likely most appeal to fans of neoclassical and contemporary instrumental music that possesses a uniquely experimental edge!

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