"The composer and pianist Ralph Zurmühle has won recognition from the prestigious American web site Solopiano.com, winning the Album of the Year award, as well as the award for the best CD in the category Contemporary and Modern Piano Music.
Reflections is an album recorded with an AvantGrand in which Ralph Zurmühle achieves warm and intimate sound textures, with levels of inspiration that capture the listener throughout the entire work, evoking relaxed and deep nuances.
Reflections explores the sonority of the piano masterfully and reaches a technical and artistic dimension only achievable by the finest contemporary piano works."
" 'We cannot see our reflection in running water…' This old Taoist proverb is the motto of Ralph Zurmühle's newest CD. But movement, a very swift, intriguing, flowing movement, seems to be the key motive in most pieces on this album. Take, for instance, the intensely beautiful Dreamesque. This piece seems to be turning, turning in front of our ears and eyes like a silvery ball which slowly, deliberately reflects our features and then moves on to shining lights, lost places, desolate spaces, imaginary landscapes, half-remembered rooms, and then to our faces again, turning slowly, always turning. This music transmits an exquisite feeling of awareness, responsibility, contemplation, awe, nostalgia. The whole CD is trembling with this feeling of nostalgia for a lost realm. It feels at times as if the piano was not really an instrument, but rather, a voice. It is impossible to express with words what this voice is saying, but it pierces the heart and heals the wound at the same time.
The pieces on this album are composed with intense care and refinement, obviously stemming from long sessions of improvisation at the piano and maintaining the intuitive feeling of improvised music. They possess the hypnotic quality of natural phenomena: a burning fire, a flowing stream, birches moved by the wind, and one listens to them as easily and devoutly as one would listen to or contemplate nature. Full of subtle changes of tempo and nuance, Reflections is Ralph Zurmühle's strongest effort to date. A very personal statement, deeper and perhaps even more varied than anything Zurmühle has ever tried before. Listen to it and you will surely remember what you did not know you had forgotten."
"Ralph Zurmühle is one of the finest contemporary piano composers on the planet. His poignant works appeal to a wide range of listeners, including classical music aficionados, but he has been known to cross many lines and many genres. His latest offering, Reflections, is not just about things done with mirrors. There are many kinds for reflections for his purposes. There are pools for reflection, times for reflection, and minds that are filled with reflection. Zurmühle's intention is to allow every kind of reflection imaginable to flourish with the help of his music. On this album he is completely successful.
No matter how many times I played the album, which was considerable, I always returned to the song Deep Waters. To me it had not only a Brubeckian feel to it, but also a great deal of pathos. What emotions can we expect to find when we plumb the blue depths of a human soul? Ralph measures that depth with his somewhat somber melody, but somehow the outcome has a promise in the end. All is not lost.
Dreamesque is the longest track on the album at over twelve minutes, and perhaps it is its most heartrending. It creates a place where the music invites your mind to wander. The melody is a haunting, moody refrain that builds a world of slippery shadows, revolving mirrors and rows and rows of closed doors. The music dares you to open a door and behold the contents. Then what do you do?
In this day and age, bells in Japan ring out for peace, but it was not always so. There was a time when they rang out a warning, a resounding caution that touted danger and symbolized the pain and anguish that was to come. It was a time of war. Ralph's beautiful composition, Chimes For Tsuyo, is a melancholy tune that resonates with an ageless sorrow. The song, with the sound of echoing bells, was inspired by a black & white image. It would have been uncomplicated if not for the shadows of suffering etched into the face Tsuyo, a survivor of Nagasaki. Now it is a stark reminder of not what to do. Ever.
Inside the cave it is cold. Water drips from stalactites and forms puddles on the floor. Reflected in the pools are dancing flames, and huddled in a corner is an old crone. Or so she seems. For, unfolding like the petals of a spring flower, this beautiful woman has the knowledge of the ages and if you are worthy, she will reveal more than you care to know. Such was the imagery provided by the tune The Oracle . The song is alluring and provocative and Ralph performs it with Mediterranean flair.
I listened to Under the Old Oak Tree with captive interest. I have the habit of sitting under the pin oak in the yard and watching the world go by. I can look up through the branches and stare at the sunlight as it splinters in the shadowy leaves and I can feel the warm breeze as it moves over the land. The boughs embrace me like wooden arms, and I feel like a part of nature, something mysterious that regulates the seasons.
Every Ralph Zurmühle album is, if anything, precise. Every detail attended to. The cover art is simple, yet refined. On Reflections, the cover is apropos. The contemporary piano music is evocative and yet musically flexible. You can be in any kind of mood and the music will seek you out and complement your feelings and it will add stimuli to your senses. In other words, it does its job superbly. Rating: Excellent."
"Since I listen to so many piano recordings, I have a lot of favorite pianist/composers, but if I had to give a short list of my top ten favorites, Ralph Zurmuhle would certainly be on that list. The Swiss-born composer has the most expressive, magical touch on the piano keys and creates music that is equally expressive and magical. Reflections is Zurmuhle's fifth album to date, following his 2011 eQuinox. Zurmuhle has been composing film music for about twenty years, and his music can say so much with a minimum number of notes. Subtle yet very passionate , Ralph Zurmuhle simply takes musical artistry to its highest level. When composing, he combines the fluidity and freedom of improvisation with refinement and development, giving his music the best of both. Most of the music on Reflections is on the slow, introspective side, but when a piece requires a faster touch or more dramatic expression, it's there. A one-word evaluation of this album would be “WOW!!!”
Reflections begins with La Plana, a nine-minute exploration that slowly and gracefully tells a story of great beauty and peace - a true reflection. This album is dedicated to Zurmuhle's father and the second track is a loving tribute called My Father's Eyes. Zurmuhle paints a musical portrait of a man with a sparkle in his eyes, a light-hearted good humor, and a zest for life (my own interpretation, of course!). Deep Waters is amazing. Clocking in at a bit over ten minutes, it tells a vivid story of vastness, dark mystery, perhaps an element of danger, and many other moods and motions of the ocean. A jazzy section could be light dancing on the water or lively sea life or maybe just the movement of the ocean current. The last couple of minutes become much more peaceful and calming - beautiful! The Oracle has a very Middle Eastern flavor that is both dark and intense. Zurmuhle's incredible technique and mastery of the piano is especially apparent in this piece - what control and expression! Chimes For Tsuyo (Hibakusha, Nagasaki) has a mournful and tragic tone that continues to haunt long after the piece is over. Under the Old Oak Tree is a blissful daydream set to music. Warm, soothing, and very relaxing, it's a gentle massage for the mind. The 12 1/2 minute Dreamesque is my favorite track. A repeated rhythmic pattern gives the piece a hypnotic pulse while the other hand is fluid and unpredictable - sometimes melodic, sometimes ethereal, sometimes barely a whisper. Breathtaking!
If you are new to Ralph Zurmuhle's music, Reflections is a great place to start! Sure to be one of my Favorites for 2014, it is available from Amazon, iTunes, and CD Baby. I give it my highest recommendation.
"Following the success of eQuinox, Ralph Zurmühle returns with an even more intimate, emotional album.
Zurmühle’s fifth studio album is nothing less than the unbiased, open window to the composer’s most introspective emotions. Intangible impressions that transform into something palpable thanks to the melodies that bend silence at will, playing with them, recreating them, improvising, leaving the listener completely isolated in his/her own world, in their own uncertainties and thoughts.
Reflections, which maintains the warm style of Zurmühle’s previous albums, is receiving great comments by the public and critics, uniting the most favorable impressions that only confirm the dominion the pianist possesses to connect with audience through his solo piano works."