Covid19 quarantine has given artists a rare opportunity to record music without pressure or deadlines. Albums that have been postponed for years are now a reality. Dave Eggar’s first solo piano in almost 20 years, Awakening, is that kind of release. And wow, what a magnificent and heartfelt gift it is! Each track is like a well-crafted, story-driven poem that tells something about a topic and Awakening as a concept. It is undoubtedly one of 2021’s finest solo piano releases and a lasting testament to the creative side of quarantine life.
Pre-orders for Awakening starts today! Below you can listen to the piece My Simple Gift.
Dave Eggar is an American cellist, pianist, and composer. Eggar was a musical prodigy as a child, beginning to play the cello and piano at age three and performing as a singer and actor at age seven. He trained as a classical cellist at the Juilliard School and later graduated from Harvard University and the Juilliard School’s Doctoral Program. He has worked with many of the biggest names in today’s music (his cello is heard extensively on Coldplay’s smash hit Viva La Vida, has toured with American Idol winner Phillip Phillips and Foreigner – see his Wikipedia profile). But long before this, he had quietly launched a solo career as a composer/pianist, releasing Serentiy (1998) and Angelic Embrace (2002). It is Eggar’s fifth release on Domo Records, a discography that includes those first two albums and Left of Blue (2005) and Kingston Morning (2010).
Awakening was produced by Chuck Palmer and recorded and engineered by Davis Hart. The album’s impressionistic sun-splashed artwork was created by Robert Redford’s wife, Sibylle Szaggars.
The title track opens the album. It starts gently but confidently. A breathtakingly beautiful melody takes shape and makes the listener pay attention. I found myself reflecting on what kind of awakening Eggar is describing; Given its warm and tender sound, it is certainly a positive experience – but there is a hint of melancholy too that makes it interesting and spellbinding. Already at this stage, we are presented with the duality that shapes the album; the lovely and the sorrowful – or perhaps yin and yang is a better description? Nevertheless, Awakening is a fantastic opening!
The listener doesn’t need to know the title to understand what Faded Memory is about. We sense how something is slipping away. It is almost there, and then it is gone forever. The only thing left is a cold emptiness. Notice the hard-hitting mid-section, which I believe represents irritation and sadness. Faded Memory is not only a terrific composition and performance, but a 100 % perfect recording, mixing, and mastering too. Palmer and Hart have done a fantastic job!
Through The Glass
Through The Glass picks up where Faded Memory left off, making us see the world from inside. Thinking about quarantine life seems inevitable, although I believe it is about everything that protects us against something on the other side. The ending is mesmerizing! I also like that there is a noticeable clicking floor in the background, underlining the circumstances.
The following part of the album is a bit lighter and (almost) carefree: Beyond, Forest Afternoon, and Diamonds are piano poems that will lighten up any playlist.
My Simple Gift
My Simple Gift is a key track on the album. The piano and cello duet is beautiful beyond words. What a heartwarming, neoclassical jewel! It might be a simple gift to give, but wow – what a joy to receive! The piece seems to underline that the manner of giving is worth so much more than the gift itself.
Awakening is, as you have understood by now, an album that makes you think. Russian Winter, Arise and Fallen Leaves deal with changes and the cold season. Eggar paints icy tableaus that can be interpreted both as actual fall and winter, or as a symbol on the state of the world. The hint of improvisation seems to give the compositions a more “organic” feel.
The album changes the atmosphere with Bristol Morning. It is a positive and warm piece, you can almost feel the morning sun on your skin. The melancholy is still there, but more manageable somehow. Coming Home, featuring heavnely vocalization by Avalona, confirms this impression and underlines the importance of friends, family, and belonging. Then focus shifts, yet the atmosphere remains. Earth Story is a breathtakingly beautiful and moving piece, an homage to this beautiful blue planet we all call home. New Dawn, featuring world-class vocalization by Priya Darshini and percussion by Will Calhoun, concludes the album. It is a deeply hopeful piece that doesn’t sugarcoat that a new dawn of humanity will be demanding.
In conclusion: Awakening by Dave Eggar is a soft-spoken album. To fully understand and appreciate its exquisite qualities, you need to “tune in”, relax and process its piano poetry. Then you will be awakened. To me, this album is on par with George Winston’s December (1982) and David Lanz’ Cristofori’s Dream (1988) – and it has a much more dramatic context.
It is tempting to say that Covid19 is “the elephant in the room” – the fiery awakening as seen on the cover artwork – but strangely enough, it isn’t. It is more of a backdrop for a “stream of consciousness” and reflection. Herein I believe lies the album’s brilliance. It represents an idea of how to proceed in the post Covid19-world; kinder, gentler, and much more aware of how everything is connected. That will be an awakening for us all.
For more information, see domomusicgroup.com/daveeggar.