It is fascinating how a piece of music changes when you add a new instrument into the mix. Karen Biehl recently released “Falling Snow”, a solo piano single that captures a child’s joy and excitement on the first day of winter. Today, she and Fransoafran have a new version ready for us: “Falling Snow – Piano and Strings”. The childish joy is still intact, but a whole new level of meaning and expression has been added, thanks to Fransoafran’s violin. I urge you to check out both versions and hear for yourself how this winter wonderland evolves, from the innocent and gentle, to deeply poetical and refined.
Karen Biehl has studied with former Metropolitan Opera star Thomas Hayward before completing her master’s degree at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. She is also classically trained in piano and violin. For “Starlight Dreams”, released in November 2018, the readers and listeners here on Newagemusic.guide awarded Biehl the Best Solo Piano 2018 award. In 2019 and 2020, Biehl has released several singles – including “The Snow Lay on the Ground”, “Silent Night” and the two versions of “Falling Snow”.
Francois Mathian, aka Fransoafran, was inspired to learn piano and violin at an early age by his mother, who was a violinist and a science professor. After classical training, he toured and recorded as a jazz and rock violinist in multiple French bands (Hoy, Payou Rabalat, Liane Edwards, Trapettistes, Malbonheurs, CKoinC, and Corcovado Trio). Since moving to Australia, he now releases his own music, collaborates with yoga teachers, sound healers, and artists such as Nathan Glass and Sarah Coponat. See all his music on Spotify.
Falling Snow – Piano and Strings
I suggest that you start by listening to the solo piano version of “Falling Snow”:
With this in mind, you are all set to experience the piano and strigs version:
It has the same opening, and then Fransoafran enters the stage at around 4 seconds and onwards. The layered violin sounds dreamy and, for the lack of a better word, airy. Like the piano, the violin captures the gentle dance of the falling snow – much like Forrest Gump “Feather Theme” captures the iconic falling feather (you can hear it with piano and violin here. It too starts way up in the air.)
The most interesting part is how the violin adds something radically new compared to the solo piano version. The gentle piano is still here, but the sharp sounding violin instantly adds maturity and culture. Yes, the child’s winter experience is still there in the background – but the whole landscape changes. If this had been a painting, the piano version would have been of a grinning snowman – and the piano and violin version is a classical oil painting of an idyllic snow-clad landscape.
I’m amazed by how much information the less than two minutes piece contains – and that is true for both versions. But it is impossible to say which version is the best. They are both genuine and heartfelt. It is a bit like comparing “Frosty the Snowman” with “Silent Night”, performed by Placido Domingo and the Wiener Symphoniker. Both are magnificent, in their own way.
If you are looking for material for your elegant Holiday or winter playlist, you can’t go wrong with “Falling Snow – Piano and Strings”. Or, if you want to relive childhood memories of winter, you should stick with the solo piano version.