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Ann Sweeten | Just This Side of Spring

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New Age: Neo-Classical New Age: Contemporary Instrumental Moods: Featuring Piano
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Just This Side of Spring

by Ann Sweeten

Contemporary Composer/Concert Pianist blends stylish, sophisticated, technical composition in well-rooted classical themes with originality and passion, resulting in performances that pack an emotional wallop- cool score, neo-classical, new age redefined.
Genre: New Age: Neo-Classical
Release Date: 

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  Song Share Time Download
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1. December Snow
4:40 $0.99
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2. Just this Side of Spring
4:37 $0.99
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3. Light from a Narrow Window
3:32 $0.99
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4. A Light Rain
4:56 $0.99
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5. A Moment in Time
3:46 $0.99
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6. Crossing Over
7:14 $0.99
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7. Nikki's Song
7:17 $0.99
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8. In Gardens Fast Asleep
4:24 $0.99
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9. Hearts Left Behind
4:07 $0.99
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10. The Melt Waters
4:07 $0.99
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11. True North
4:05 $0.99
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.

ABOUT THIS ALBUM


Album Notes
Just this Side of Spring nominated for Best Instrumental Album - Piano (ZMR 2010 Music Awards)

BIOGRAPHY
After nearly 20 years of enamoring audiences on the Concert stage and on Radio/Internet Airwaves, Ann Sweeten’s signature style is recognized world-wide and now her new album, Where Butterflies Dance is without question her most ambitious and successful to date. Will Ackerman, co-producer, had this to say: “There is no greater compliment I can give any musician than to say they have their own artistic voice. They are uniquely themselves and bring something utterly their own to the world. Ann Sweeten is one of those rare musicians. The grace one associates with Ann’s performance has been matched by what I believe are the best melodies of her career. At a time when many artists might choose to coast on their notoriety, Ann has raised the bar considerably and we, the listeners, are the beneficiaries of her ambition and skill. Really brilliant.”

One of the most decorated pianists of the past decade with 7 previous albums all ranking in the Top 5 NAR and ZMR Radio Reports, Sweeten is also one of the most played modern instrumentalists in North America. A truly well-rounded individual and artist, Ms. Sweeten is a staunch environmentalist, animal activist and vegetarian. In addition to her Concert and Recording career, she is also a professional actress/singer/dancer with Actor’s Equity Association. Ann Sweeten is herself a Breast Cancer survivor twice over and is involved with the Arts in Healthcare Initiative.
Sweeten’s journey in the performing arts began at the age of 6 in both Music and Ballet in Westfield, NJ. She received a Hammond Organ for Christmas that year after showing interest in keyboards and was soon to master it, though the first year she had to stand to reach the pedals. For her ninth Christmas, she received a Baldwin Piano and soon began intensive study with Russian-born Concert Pianist David Sokoloff. Under his tutelage, she learned to play the music of the great masters. She sites Sokoloff as her greatest mentor, whose influence in developing her technique and in encouraging her musicality, was paramount. All during these years, Sweeten was also dancing the classic ballets (Swan Lake, Les Sylphides, Sleeping Beauty) with a Regional Ballet Company in NJ. A Dean’s list scholar throughout academia, Sweeten earned a B.A. from Smith College in foreign languages, graduating Cum Laude, and continued study in Paris and later at the Boston Conservatory.

Sweeten did a brief two year stint as Female Front and lyricist to the Pop/Rock Band : FALLOUT. Then she began appearing on Cruise Ships, in Cabaret Clubs and Resorts playing and singing a wide range of material including Jazz, Pop, Folk, New Age and Broadway music. Sweeten began composing around 1989 in the midst of her Musical Theatre Career, starring in such roles as Aldonza (Man of La Mancha) Sister Amnesia (Nunsense) Miss Mona (Best Little Whorehouse in Texas) and Velma Kelly (Chicago). When she started introducing her own original material to her set lists, the response was overwhelming. In 1997, Sweeten released her debut album, “Prism”. By Sweeten’s third album, “Reflections” (2000), her music was selling on listening stations at major record chains (Borders Books & Music, Sam Goody’s) weekly by the hundreds. Fans began to write in depth of the effect of Sweeten’s music on their lives, speaking of the music as hope, as giving the power of healing or a way of finding peace. She has stated “the fact that my music touches people so strongly is the greatest reward I receive from my music and I have been moved to tears by the personal stories people have shared with me.” Having written over 100 musical scores to date, Sweeten is also author to all of her albums’ liner notes and is a poet in her own right. In 2008, Steinway and Sons welcomed Sweeten into its prestigious international roster of Steinway Artists, touting her, a true Renaissance woman.


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Reviews


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Raj Manoharan (www.rajmanreviews.blogspot.com)

The RajMan Review
Pianist Ann Sweeten’s latest album, Just This Side of Spring, offers a refreshing change of pace from the usual solo piano genre. Rather than show off her chops with an obvious display of thunderous chords and lightning-quick melodic runs, the award-winning Steinway Artist instead chooses to focus on quiet, introspective compositions that are thoughtful and contemplative.

Perhaps this creative direction is due to the recent loss to cancer of her beloved Siberian husky, Nikki – much of whom this album is inspired by, especially the track “Nikki’s Song” – and the pianist’s own recent battle with breast cancer.

The result is a beautiful collection of songs that never grate or overstay their welcome, but flow seamlessly into one another like a calm and steady waterfall. And like such a waterfall, the CD has a therapeutic effect that makes it the perfect soundtrack for personal reflection, recuperation, and regrouping.

Sweeten doesn’t go it completely alone on this outing. The beauty of her soft piano is accentuated on the title track by just a hint of tasteful, subtle acoustic guitar by Windham Hill Records/Private Music founder and New Age legend Will Ackerman, who also co-produced the album. Other tracks also feature light seasonings of violin, viola, cello, flute, synthesizer, and voice.

Just This Side of Spring is highly recommended not just for fans of solo piano music, but for anyone seeking musical comfort and solace.
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John P. Olsen / NewAgeMusicWorld.Com / NewAgeMusic.nu

Piano Music for any Season
Ann Sweeten is one musician widely recognized for her classic style, setting a high standard in quality among many pianists in the wide range of genres employing piano music as the chosen manner for pleasing an audience. In a skilled full range delivery on a Steinway Baby Grand, her classic signature sound deserves respect in a natural way, lending itself to beautiful music that many have found, gives new meaning to the term music appreciation. Just This Side Of Spring showcases her latest composing lead performance as a Steinway Artist and music professional, with several talented artists at her side. Will Ackerman for one, performs on acoustic guitar on the title song, along with co-producing the album with Ann, who also conducts vocals and synthesizers. Andrew Eng on viola & violin, along with bass performer Michael Miksis, and Trisha Craig on Flute are the accompanying musicians featured on several songs contained on this album, who do excel in terms of fluidity as a collective unit. Having authored a number of Piano Solo reviews in the New Age genre, I promptly identified an admirable level of richness and depth in tone I rarely hear in many comparative piano solo albums. Stylish tonal qualities held in even the quietest patterns give complex sequences and a prolific feel of realism within every individual phrase. I likewise concluded the classic instrumentals supporting Ann Sweeten on Just This Side Of Spring clearly strengthen this opulent quality, validating my initial first impression. In addition to her recognition as a Steinway Artist & Composer, her achievements are numerous, including voting privileges in the National Recording Academy of Arts & Sciences, ASCAP Popular Award Recipient starting in 2002, and continuing every year up to 2009. The ZMR nominations and awards are just as numerous and her talents are not limited to music achievements and concert performances on piano. Ann is also a professional actress, singer, and ballet dancer, realizing many achievements in her diverse life. Just This Side Of Spring is a thoughtful Piano Instrumental album that holds many elegant touches leaning towards the classical side of life, while shown in a natural realistic way too, becoming a great follow up for her previous Piano Instrumental album Grey Sky and Bittersweet. I concluded that both Just This Side Of Spring & Grey Sky and Bittersweet make you feel a pleasant sense of comfort and enjoyment in a much desired way, given by a qualified pianist who delivers an admirable performance on a Steinway Baby Grand, in another new release of her music almost everyone can appreciate.
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REVIEWS NEW AGE

Profunda Belleza, delicada emoción!.
Es curioso y a la vez doloroso, como los artistas dan vida a sus mejores trabajos en los momentos más amargos de sus vidas, momentos en los que los sentimientos están a flor de piel y que, por suerte o por desgracia, ayudan a encontrar la siempre ansiada y perdida llave que abre las puertas de la inspiración; Just This Side Of Spring es uno de estos casos, donde once lindas y emocionantes piezas recogen con nostalgia y tristeza duros momentos vividos por la pianista. Tras la trágica perdida de su perra Husky, Nikki, por un cáncer que dejó un doloroso vacío en Ann y, posteriormente, un segundo cáncer de mama diagnosticado a la propia Ann, son el origen de una de las situaciones más difíciles para la artista, que aún así, se armó de coraje para rendirle este gran homenaje a su perra. Just This Side Of Spring ha sido producido por Ann y por el ganador de un Grammy, Will Ackerman y masterizado por Corin Nelsen en Imaginary Road Studios, lo que hacen de este, un trabajo muy interesante.
"December Snow" es la pieza que abre el álbum; de carácter triste las manos de Ann reproducen una compleja melodía. Hermosa y tierna la pieza fluye lenta, dibujando a su paso instantáneas de un bello y solitario paraje, cubierto por un denso manto blanco. Sublime!.

El track que da título al álbum, "Just This Side Of Spring" es una pieza dulce, que se ve engrandecida por el furtivo acompañamiento de la guitarra acústica de Will Ackerman, juntos dan vida a una bellísima y tierna pieza. Una de mis favoritas!.

"Light From A Narrow Window" comienza con arpegios de la mano izquierda, mientras la diestra reproduce una delicada melodía; una introducción perfecta para el violín de Andrew Eng. Soñadora e ilusionada, esta pieza sumerge al oyente en un cálido sueño. Sencillamente delicada, simplemente hermosa!.

"A Light Rain" es dolorida, pero dotada de una hermosura sorprendente. Las manos de Ann caminan sobre el teclado dando vida a una profunda y melancólica melodía que recoge un instante frío, gris; el tiempo se detiene, mientras la mirada está perdida contemplando una ligera lluvia que cae en el jardín. Inmensamente profunda, pero bellísima. Otra de mis favoritas!.

Con gran nostalgia, "A Moment In Time" nos trae bellos recuerdos, donde un pad synth se une al Steinway Baby Grand B de Ann. La pieza es simplemente emocionante, consiguiendo que el oyente rememore los más dulces y emotivos recuerdos. Es asombroso como la melodía de esta pieza consigue atrapar momentos que se creían olvidados. Me encanta!. Wow!.

La pieza más extensa de este trabajo, más de siete minutos, lleva como título "Crossing Over", simplemente, "Cruzar". un sutil golpe de acordes en la zona baja del piano sirve como acompañamiento a la entrecortada melodía que reproduce la mano derecha de Ann. Un tema que invita a descansar y que apela a la calma después de vivir los momentos más amargos. Suave!.

El tema dedicado a su perra, se titula, como no puede ser de otra forma, "Nikki's Song". Es la pieza más triste que contiene el álbum. La viola de Andrew Eng y la dolorida melodía que reproduce Ann desde lo más profundo de su ser dan vida a una de las piezas mas abatidas, un lamento descrito por cada nota que acaricia la artista, capaz de arrancar las lágrimas del oyente mientras este repasa las palabras que Ann dedica a Nikki en el libreto del CD. Imposible que no se haga un nudo en la garganta al leerlo. Asombrosa pieza. Otra de mis favoritas!.

"In Gardens Fast Asleep". Un tema que fluye con suavidad acompañado por el, apenas apreciable, bajo de Michael Miksis. Las delicadas progresiones de la mano izquierda se funden con la melodía principal que dibuja la mano derecha. Un tema que invita a descansar, a reflexionar.

De nuevo, Ann vuelve la vista atrás para recordar bellos momentos con "Heart Left Behind", un añorado track donde el vaivén de notas bajas junto a la bellísima melodía, crean un ambiente plácido. Pura delicadeza!.

El toque romántico lo pone "The Melt Waters", momento en el que el frío invierno deja paso a coloridos y cálidos paisajes. Posiblemente la pieza más optimista de este trabajo, donde la flauta de Trisha Craig sigue ocasionalmente y en perfecta armonía a la melodía que reproduce Ann. Bellísima!. Otra de mis favoritas!.

"True North". Después de bellos recuerdos, tenemos que regresar a la triste realidad; esto es "True North", la melancólica pieza que cierra el álbum. Una melodía llena de dolor de principio a fin, acompañada por una afligida voz femenina. Un amargo final para este sorprendente trabajo.
Just This Side Of Spring es un álbum muy emotivo, donde en ocasiones, logra estremecer al oyente gracias a las acertadas melodías y a los textos que el libreto contiene y que acompañan a cada historia, cada título. Compuestas desde lo más profundo, estas piezas son las palabras que no pueden tomar forma por el dolor, pero a las que Ann ha sabido proporcionarles una dulce y delicada voz con las notas de su piano. Just This Side Of Spring es un álbum sorprendente, emocionante. Un álbum altamente recomendado
Reviewsnewage.com
24/05/10
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