Reality Of Dreams
Reviewed by Pam Asberry
Pianist and composer Dulce Joya began her classical studies at age six at an arts school in her native Cuba and has spent her life living, studying, performing and teaching music in Colombia, Austria and her current home of Germany.
Her debut solo piano collection “Reality of Dreams” finds her taking what she describes as a “fantastic trip to an individual universe,” a realm of fulfilled expression that captures her belief that there is truly no frontier between fantasy and reality. While Dulce cites Frederic Chopin as her primary influence on the piano, her compositions also draw inspiration from her dreams, theater music, progressive rock, rock ballads and notable contemporary composers such as Vangelis and Enya. As a result, her work is almost impossible to categorize; as she puts it, I prefer to enjoy the freedom to travel from one style to another fluidly that gives me flexibility and management of tempo, rhythm and different harmonies – like a game between tension and relaxation.”
The album opens with the showstopper “Romantic Power.” This virtuosic piece explores the entire range of the keyboard in an elegant and flowing fashion and is followed by the epic “Call of the King.” Imagine the monarch’s stirring speech as he inspires his subjects to join him on a noble campaign for a just cause, acknowledging the inevitable suffering that will be endured but promising victory in the end. “Lights and Shadows” is a study in contrasts and made me think of the speech in which Dr. Martin Luther King said, “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that.”
“Sad Moments” is a solemn processional; the cinematic “Magical Ride” is alternately frenzied and calm; sometimes, it’s as if the listener is being pursued by something sinister but then the music becomes quieter, almost mysterious. Many stories come to mind! The Lisztian “Pride of Love” is tender and emotional and captures the many moods of love. “Shadows of My Soul” alternates between phrases of swelling luminescence and intense darkness and melancholy.
“Stormchild” “shares the joy of childhood memories, alternating between innocence and exuberance; listening to “Winter Dreams” is like looking out onto a peaceful snow-scape and letting the mind wander. The sentimental “Bleeding Heart” is followed by the musically complex “Fallen Angel,” another piece worthy of a narrative. The album comes to a heartfelt close with “Goodbye” – which to me, wasn’t so sad as it was determined.
Dulce Joya is an amazing musical storyteller, a gifted pianist and a brilliant composer and Reality of Dreams is absolutely stunning. Highly recommended!
Reviewed by Pam Asberry
Release date October 11, 2019
Classically trained from the age of six, Cuban born pianist and composer Dulce Joya has studied, performed and taught music in Colombia, Austria, and Germany, where she currently resides. Her 2017 release, “Reality of Dreams,” was an fascinating musical journey through the boundaries between fantasy and reality. Her latest release, “Devotion,” further displays the artist’s technical prowess at the piano as well as her unique ability to combine classical traditional with contemporary sounds. And make no mistake: Dulce Joya is no wallflower and this is not background music. There is plenty of interest here to utterly captivate the most demanding listener through numerous plays.
Devotion begins with the beautiful “Passione Nocturnale.” Like a Chopin nocturne, this one explores a full range of expression, from quiet and tender to sweeping and dramatic. “Yes It Is You” is an emotional ballad, tender and deeply moving. “The Sound of Your Voice” is a tender, melodic love song; I could easily imagine lyrics set to this one. Although it is nearly impossible to choose, “Eternal Love,” which features a gorgeous melody embellished with riffs reminiscent of Rachmaninoff, just might be my favorite piece on the album. “Forgotten Words” is dark and enigmatic and put me in mind of a scene from a Tim Burton movie.
The richly textured “Oceanally Hearts” expresses a yearning passion and showcases a dramatic melody accompanied by powerful chords and octaves in the bass. The next two pieces, “My Untamed Soul in Yours” and “The Endless Feelings of Mine” are intense yet thoughtful explorations of what it means to love and be loved, encompassing a range of emotion from poignant melancholy to unbridled joy. Have you ever met someone that you had an instant connection with? “From Ancient Time We Meet Again” perfect captures the feeling of joy that happens when two hearts recognize each other as if from a past meeting. “Mistery Among Candles” is another dark and mysterious cinematic piece performed with astonishing sensitivity and virtuosity and a fitting conclusion to this unforgettable album.
“Devotion” is one of the most exciting solo piano albums I have heard all year, and I give it my highest recommendation!