Lisa Swerdlow

Grass Valley, CA, UNITED STATES


Albums


Lasting Impressions
2020, Contemporary Classical Crossover
ReviewSpotifyAppleMusicAmazonBandCamp

Dawn Contemplation
2020,
Review

Still Here
2019,
Review

Sing Me of Winter
2019,
Review

Lasting Impressions (single)
2019,
Review

Voyager
2018,
ReviewSpotify

“Lasting Impressions” reviewed by Pam Asberry

Lisa Swerdlow’s latest release, “Lasting Impressions” was nearly two years in the making and is a milestone for this accomplished composer and pianist, as it contains her first ventures into both arranging and orchestration as well as her first trilogy. All the solo piano pieces were recorded and engineered by Joe Bongiorno at Piano Haven Studio in Sedona, Arizona – as  always, the piano sound is exquisite – and all the orchestrated pieces were recorded, engineered and orchestrated by Paul Kraushaar at Parasight Records in Grass Valley, California.

The album opens quietly with the piano solo “Listening from the Heart.” According to the liner notes, this is a musical tribute to all the people who have touched the composer’s life in a profound way.  Mesmerizing and thought provoking, this piece led me to reflect upon my own history and those who have influenced me.  “Slipping into Dreams” is the first movement of the trilogy titled “Dream Trilogy.” The music begins with fast triplets but soon settles into a somber, gentle theme, perhaps meant to represent the mind transitioning from the frenzy of daytime into a peaceful slumber. The trilogy continues with “Dreams in Motion,” an exploration of the dream world of flying; in this case, the dreamer seems to be flying with ease and enjoying the view from above, completely in control. “Was It All a Dream?” is the final movement of the trilogy and evokes that feeling of waking up from the dream world and struggling to reorient into reality.

One morning this past winter, composer and pianist Lisa Swerdlow woke before dawn. Without knowing why, experienced a sense of foreboding and found herself reflecting on her life and contemplating all that she hoped yet to accomplish. She climbed out of bed and headed to the barn to feed her horses, as was her habit, just as the sun began to break over the Sierra Nevada mountains to the east of her home. Storm clouds hovered over the horizon, resulting in a spectacular winter sunrise that served to calm her troubled thoughts. The composition that grew out of that experience is the riveting “Dawn Contemplation.” Ethereal and atmospheric, every note is filled with passion. One phrase flows into another with melancholic earnestness, building to a powerful climax before resolving gently. This music is powerful and stirring, evoking a range of emotions, everything from apprehension and a sense of urgency to peace and acceptance, and is a fitting soundtrack to the challenging times we find ourselves in as a result of Covid-19.

In “Still Here,” the artist describes her multiyear relationship to having Stage 4 metastatic breast cancer and how music has been a major contributor to keeping her alive and healthy.  The piece opens solemnly, almost questioningly, then the music rises and falls with powerful emotion and wondrous beauty in expressions of the gamut of emotions I imagine one would experience on the heels of treatment for cancer: profound relief, intense gratitude, a sense of wonder about life in general, a renewed excitement about the future, a deepened closeness to loved ones. Happily for all of us, Lisa Swerdlow is “still here” and will be sharing her beautiful music with us for many years to come!

“Pentimento,” featuring Kristen Autry on the violin and Alexandra Roedder on the cello, is “an artistic expression of all things that are hidden from view.” Dark and brooding, this piece put me in mind of some of the great violin/cello and piano duets from the great Russian romantic composers, such as Cesar Cui or Rimsky-Korsakov and is a favorite. Autry and Roedder join the piano again in the title track “Lasting Impressions,” Swerdlow’s first venture in arranging, which also features Paul Kraushaar on the drums and electric bass. It begins simply with just the piano and a touch of percussion; the key is minor, and the mood is rather dark and melancholy. As the piece continues, the texture gradually thickens and the music becomes almost conversational as the other instruments join in with countermelodies and rich harmonies.

Next comes the orchestrated version of “Listening from the Heart.” This cinematic gem is truly a masterpiece. In the words of the artist, this music is meant to evoke the feelings one has when walking through the woods or beside the ocean with to a cherished loved one, giving full attention to the moment at hand. With this impressive offering, Swerdlow conjures all these emotions and so many more. The album concludes with “Sing me of Winter,” inspired by Swerdlow’s friend Paul Landry who advised her NOT to do yet another cover of an existing Christmas song but instead to write one of her own. It’s a spirited tune in a fast triple meter; the piano fairly sparkles and the orchestration adds just the right “festive” touches. This is dramatic music that could serve as the soundtrack to a scene in a movie, opening with a sense of urgency that gradually unfolds into excitement and ends with a sweep of the heart and a glorious sense of resolution. Not just for the holidays, this is a piece I could listen to over and over (and I have!)

“Lasting Impressions” is a triumph for Lisa Swerdlow. Very highly recommended!



“Dawn Contemplation” reviewed by Pam Asberry

One morning last winter, composer and pianist Lisa Swerdlow woke before dawn. Without knowing why, experienced a sense of foreboding and found herself reflecting on her life and contemplating all that she hoped yet to accomplish. She climbed out of bed and headed to the barn to feed her horses, as was her habit, just as the sun began to break over the Sierra Nevada mountains to the east of her home. Storm clouds hovered over the horizon, resulting in a spectacular winter sunrise that served to calm her troubled thoughts.

The composition that grew out of that experience is “Dawn Contemplation,” a riveting piano solo spectacularly orchestrated by Doug Hammer. Ethereal and atmospheric, every note is filled with passion. One phrase flows into another with melancholic earnestness, building to a powerful climax before resolving gently. This music is powerful and stirring, evoking a range of emotions, and is a fitting soundtrack to the challenging times we find ourselves in as a result of Covid-19. A triumph for Lisa Swerdlow and Doug Hammer, I give it my highest recommendation.



“Still Here” reviewed by Pam Asberry

Lisa Swerdlow is a relative newcomer to the solo piano genre, returning to the instrument after a many-years hiatus on the heels of a grim cancer diagnosis in 2013. To date, she has released two albums of original music to rave reviews; her latest release is a single titled “Still Here,” in which the artist expresses her gratitude for surviving the disease and the life she enjoys now.
 
Recorded and mastered by Joe Bongiorno at Piano Haven Studios in Sedona, the sound of the piano itself is exquisite. The piece opens solemnly, almost questioningly, then the music rises and falls with powerful emotion and wondrous beauty in expressions of the gamut of emotions I imagine one would experience on the heels of treatment for cancer: profound relief, intense gratitude, a sense of wonder about life in general, a renewed excitement about the future, a deepened closeness to loved ones. Happily for all of us, Lisa Swerdlow is “still here” and will be sharing her beautiful music with us for many years to come. Very highly recommended!


“Sing Me of Winter” reviewed by Paul Kraushaar

“Sing me of Winter” is a brand new holiday single by the gifted composer and talented pianist Lisa Swerdlow. According to Swerdlow, this music was inspired by her friend Paul Landry who advised her NOT to do yet another cover of an existing Christmas song but instead to write one of her own. And I for one am very grateful that she did! It’s a spirited tune in a fast triple meter; the piano fairly sparkles and is set off with a beautiful orchestration by Paul Kraushaar, who added just the right “festive” touches. This is dramatic music that could serve as the soundtrack to a scene in a movie; the piece opens with a sense of urgency that gradually unfolds into excitement and ends with a sweep of the heart and a glorious sense of resolution. “Sing Me of Winter” is going on ALL of my holiday playlists and I look forward to listening to it again and again, throughout the current season and for many years to come. Don’t miss it! Very highly recommended!



“Lasting Impressions (single)” reviewed by Pam Asberry

The latest single from pianist and composer Lisa Swerdlow, “Lasting Impressions,” is also her first venture into arranging. The piano is joined by violin, cello, percussion and bass guitar and the result is fabulous.
 
Swerdlow says that this music was inspired by the many people – lovers, friends and teachers – and places that have left a lasting impression on her and guided the choices she has made in her life. It begins simply with just the piano and a touch of percussion; the key is minor, and the mood is rather dark and melancholy. As the piece continues, the texture gradually thickens and the music becomes almost conversational as the other instruments join in with countermelodies and rich harmonies. The effect is both mesmerizing and thought provoking, causing me to reflect upon my own history and those who have influenced me. Very highly recommended!


“Voyager” reviewed by Pam Asberry

California native Lisa Swerdlow was raised in a musical family and began studying classical piano at the age of six. She turned to composing at the age of sixteen and has performed in a variety of situations, including playing piano in a rock band and touring with an all female salsa band. After an extended hiatus from composing and performing, she returned to the piano and released her debut albom, “Equus Rising,” in 2017. “Equus Rising” met with great success, climbing to the top of the One World Music Radio album chart and nominated One World Music’s Best Solo Piano Album of 2017. Her latest album, “Voyager,” was released August 17, 2018.
 
“Voyager,” is a musical celebration of the twin Voyager 1 and Voyager 2 spacecraft. Launched in 1977 for a fifteen-year mission, it is astonishing that they continue to send daily communication to NASA nearly forty years later. These twelve new original compositions were composed and performed by Swerdlow and recorded, mixed and mastered by Joe Bongiorno at Piano Haven Studios in Sedona, Arizona.
 
The title track, “Voyager” is a musical soundscape of outer space and a study in contrasts: high notes twinkling like stars alternating with a darker melody played in in the lower register of the piano; exquisite softs peaking to exhilarating louds. “Edge of Tranquility” is a favorite: gentle rolling chords supporting a contemplative melody alternating with a more intense and mesmerizing minor key section. The poignant “Mindful Moments” offers a powerful reflection on the importance of living each day with intention. The more solemn “Autumn” is peppered with brooding, ominous bass chords perhaps foreshadowing the brutal winter days ahead. The soaring and romantic “Sundays in Paris” is a virtuosic celebration of one of the most beautiful cities in the world.
 
“Gone Too Soon” is another favorite: mournful and tentative, exploring the full range of the piano’s rich sonority and expressing a plethora of human feelings and emotions. “Winter Solstice” is another somber piece, a stroll through a snowy landscape, perfect for listening to on a quiet December night, perhaps sitting in front a roaring fire. “Into the Center” seems to convey a quiet determination, its rich harmonies and movement from high to low finally reaching its inevitable destination. The exuberant “I Saw You Dancing with the Stars” is a sparkling and expressive waltz, again utilizing the full range of the piano and showcasing Swerdlow’s prodigious keyboard skills. “Yuba River Journey” provides the perfect conclusion to this musical journey, the left hand rippling like a current with its beautiful right hand melody flowing over.
 
 “Voyager” is a thrilling musical journey through space and time and will be appreciated by anyone who is a fan of the solo piano genre. Highly recommended!