La Reine Seule - Visages

22 Jun 2022 - Knut

Neo-Classical Piano | Kapitän Platte | Release date: 24 Jun 2022

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And now for something completely different: When the artist´s label announced this album they wrote something like “This is the quietest album we have released.” We can concur with that here at Veil of Sound; the quietest album reviewed as it is an album with eight pieces for classic solo piano by Judith Hoorens.

It is a bit daunting for one who reviewed Blut Aus Nord a couple of weeks ago to write about it. Let us give it a try though because this is an artist that deserves attention and praise for what she has achieved and continues to achieve. La Reine Seule, which translates to “The Queen Alone”, is Judith Hoorens, the creative force behind We Stood Like Kings, has adopted for her solo project.

If you, as me, like to sit alone and listen to Études, Nocturnes and Preludes composed by Chopin, this is for you. If you like to relax with complex yet mellow piano music, this is for you. If you have been at a gig with We Stood Like Kings, listened to Hoorens´ piano playing and wondered how that would sound without the band, this is for you. If you want a break from ear-splitting metal related music and need down-time to reflect, this is definitely for you.

It is utterly fascinating when an artist releases an album where only the album title may give a hint to the reason behind the music. Visage meaning face, and everyone´s face changes with emotions and time. Though there might be many other connotations that are not understood by one who does not speak French. On this album the tracks are just numbered one to eight in French. Then it is up to you to fill the music with meaning if you want that or just let it flow for the forty minutes the album lasts. As Hoorens is quite an accomplished composer and performer, you will discover different patterns in the piano music with every new listen.

The timbre of the opener ”un” is soft and clear. There is a slow build-up to warmer and more rounded parts that in my ears is contrasting to the next longer track ”deux” that opens with mellow low keys and a slow reflecting pace before it floats with the artist using many keys to broaden the music. It is fast, but not too fast. It is just beautiful how she embiggens the track to take it down again. It is resonant and warm and the build-up is gradual and lively towards a joyful section before it ends.

This is how the music is throughout the album, shifting between the dynamics of piano, mezzo piano and mezzo forte with some seldom turns into forte like in ”six”. More than once, as in the opening of ”sept”, I am reminded of the beginning of Chopin´s Raindrop Prelude throughout the album as soft droplets fall from the piano keys into my ears. Visage is an album that is composed with great skill, a will to convey emotions to the listener who wants to reflect over each track and is impressed by the beauty of the listening experience.

But - instead of me blabbering on, I want to end with a quote from the artist herself about the album: “The album is called ‘Visages’ and contains eight tracks based on an identical musical cell of three notes. In each track this small cell takes on different forms, moods, rhythms, from minor to major, from melody to harmony, from one voice to another. For me, they are like the perpetual changes our face and personality undergo in the course of a lifetime.”