Lesley Spencer is a free-lance producer, composer, and pianist with a considerable amount of recorded works. Moments Musicaux is her tenth full length album. Ms.Spencer also has contributed to the San Francisco Opera, Victory Gardens Theatre, Urban Gateways, and Radio City Recording.
Moments Musicaux is a beautiful collection of Classical, New Age, and Adult Contemporary tracks meant for easy listening and relaxation. All of these instrumental tracks would be suitable for a movie soundtrack or commercial use. The original compositions are so strong and appealing that they could be easily used for those looking for a meditative experience. Do not misinterpret that as a suggestion that this music will put you to sleep, it’s quite the contrary. The piano playing that Lesley exhibits on this recording is exemplary and full of life and positive energy, like individual time capsules of poetic exquisiteness without words played especially for you.
The fact that all the tracks are originals composed by the performing artist, scores highly with this listener. Every single track is a work of art that takes shape promptly and then easily leads you down a guided path of “Child’s Play” or “The Dance of Life.”
Right down to every detail and the perfectly named tracks, Moments Musicaux is a foray into instrumental bliss that will delight all lovers of music and those partial to instrumental songs that take elements of classical and turn them into what was classified as new age several decades ago. New Age is not new in the sense of what the music actually sounds like, it was a buzz word coined to give a an age old genre a little more appeal to an audience that it would normally not attract.
This type of collection holds many possibilities for listeners and it has the power to appeal to any age group anywhere in the world. All you have to do is open up the CD and give it a spin, no further explanation is necessary. 5 Stars
Keith “MuzikMan” Hannaleck
Composer Lesley Spencer has created a solo piano masterpiece with “Moments Musicaux,” her tenth full-length CD, which also commemorates the tenth anniversary of her indie label, Gabriella Music. Ms Spencer utilizes her vast musical training and experience to effortlessly bridge the classical and contemporary genres with music that is sometimes light and playful and sometimes very dark and haunting, with other pieces somewhere in between – much like life itself. The sixteen pieces are complex enough to satisfy the discerning classical music aficionado but still accessible and melodic enough for the more casual listener who wants some great music to relax and unwind with. The title of the album recalls a suite of pieces by 19th century composer Franz Schubert, and like Schubert’s beloved collection, this album contains a variety of moods and musical tales about life and the characters in it. Charming and compelling, I think this is Spencer’s strongest work to date.
The first musical moment is “Dance of Life,” a piece that swirls and spins with energy and excitement. With only a few pauses to catch its breath, this pieces just keeps moving. “Child’s Play” brims over with such lighthearted innocence that you can almost hear children laughing in the background. One of my favorites is “Fellini Waltz,” a wonderful minor key tribute that is compelling, ironic, and very Italian – much like the filmmaker who inspired it. “The Lost Baby” is a tragic piece that goes right to the heart with its emotionally wrenching melody and haunting mood. “Ode to Harry Potter” is another favorite. Mysterious, lively, and energetic, it captures the spirit of the boy wizard. “Piano Suite II” is a group of five shorter pieces. “Morning Edition” is frenetic, describing the rush of the morning commute and getting the day started in a big city. “Scherzo,” which means “joke,” is lively, playful, and full of fun. “Little Jazz Waltz” is a carefree little dance. “Rainy Day Theme” is wistful and dreamy. And then “Force of Nature” storms in, turning everything dark and mysterious. “Waltz For Keegan” is a tender waltz written for a friend’s son who died of leukemia a few years ago at the age of eight. It’s a beautiful remembrance.
I should probably mention that I had the opportunity to edit the piano sheet music for this collection before I heard the finished CD, and the music is as much of a joy to play as it is to listen to. “Moments Musicaux” is available from www.lesleyspencer.com, amazon.com, cdbaby.com, and iTunes. Very highly recommended!
Lesley Spencer is an accomplished classical pianist, composer and producer based out of Chicago, IL. Her compositions/recordings are heard regularly on NPR’s Morning Edition and Weekend Edition, and has even had a composition placed in the Disney Film Stick It. She receives airplay internationally, and is acknowledge as a world class classical pianist. Spencer also has a flair for exploring melodies in a way that invites contemporary music fans to dig deeper into the classical realm. She has a gift for making classical music more accessible while staying true to the music’s roots. On Moments Musicaux, Spencer presents 16 original compositions that dance, sway, twitter and spark their way into your imagination.
Moments Musicaux opens with Dance Of Life, which seems to portray the almost frantic, relentless quality that life has of reinventing and reconfiguring itself to thrive. You can almost here the musical metaphors for overcoming and becoming in every passage. The set moves on to Child’s Play, which could have walked right out of a Charlie Brown cartoon (ala Schroeder). The song seems to explore the light and airy side of play, while acknowledging a darker undercurrent.
Moments Musicaux is full of highlights, from Fellini Waltz to Ode To Harry Potter to Scherzo, Spencer is on her game throughout. My personal favorite piece here is Pirouette, a dark and starkly beautiful melody over the backdrop of an incessant and plaintive waltz. If this were the only song on Moments Musicaux it would be worth purchasing, but Spencer has crafted an album full of beautiful, surprising and memorable moments.
Rating: 4.5 Stars (Out of 5) 7/22/2008
Never one to be content with merely being a New Age piano player, Spencer attacks her new set with a high-octane energy right from the start fusing classical and NAC elements into her New Age presentation. Spencer also includes some dark elements you normally don’t associate with New Age piano. This set feels like Spencer is taking it to a whole new level of the game. No stranger to hard work and accomplishment, it sounds and feels like she wants to keep pushing the boundaries and keep her chops sharp. The playing is sharp and focused making it a good soundtrack for almost anything except munching granola and sipping herbal tea.
222 (Gabriella Music)
Chris Spector 07/20/08
Lesley Spencer – Moments Musicaux – CD(Gabriella Music) Lesley is an amazing pianist who has the ability to write songs that are easily accessible, memorable, catchy and yet still sophisticated. This is her tenth release and is often heard on NPR programs as background or between stories. One of my favorite tracks is her “Ode to Harry Potter” which has some very John Williams’ passages. Lesley has had music featured in a few documentaries, but I could see her music easily being used in any number of major productions. If you are looking for some great background music, then this is spot on.
Grog Mutant (2008)
MOMENTS MUSICAUX Lesley Spencer/Gabriella Music. A delightful pastiche of solo piano, this puts me in mind of a dance recital for little girls, with melodies sprightly and gay, arpeggios aplenty. Not that there are no slower, more thoughtful pieces, but even these have their dance worthy moments.
Nightflying – a small indie mag out of the South East
Moments Musicaux is Lesley Spencer’s tenth full-length CD, and it shows. There are a lot of artists who bust their humps to manage one musical style, but on this album of solo piano compositions (she both writes and performs) Ms. Spencer shows herself to be adept at a wide variety of styles, mostly with great success.
An accomplished composer whose work appears in numerous soundtracks, the music on this album is often beautiful without allowing itself to be relegated to background music- you can, but if you pay attention to nuances such as the subtle time shifts you’ll be rewarded. Her Piano Suite II, in particular, is a fully formed composition that speaks in a uniform voice even though the accent changes from movement to movement. The “Raison d’Etre” of the album isn’t, really, but in some ways it’s the meatiest composition on Moments Musicaux. If I was trying to use this album as background music I’d leave this track off the playlist – it draws your attention in.
“Fellini Waltz” demonstrates one of the few places that Ms. Spencer falls down. The sustaining beat of a waltz has to have some sort of particular character in order to interest the listener; you can have sad waltzes, dance (obviously) waltzes, angry waltzes, even off-kilter waltzes that sound a little bit mad; I’m looking at you, Ravel. Ms. Spencer’s Waltz, however, has no character beyond a student’s desire to keep the time. She’s no student and clearly this piece is nowhere near her technical limit, but that’s the impression left. Interestingly, her “Little Jazz Waltz” in the Piano Suite II works just fine, so it seems to be just the one piece. Still.
A certain type of shopper might see the “Ode to Harry Potter” and feel an immediate compulsion to snap up this album; another type would similarly shun it completely. As a disappointment/encouragement, let me just say that it’s a lovely piece that doesn’t so much recall the books/movies so much as use them as a jumping off place.
If this review seems overly contemplative, well, that’s what Moments Musicaux does to you. I recommend it without reservation, particularly if you like to invest some time into what you’re playing.