CD Review: Arik Strauss, Solitude

Written by | CD Reviews, News

Recently I had the privilege of reviewing Arik Strauss’s latest album, “Solitude,” released a few months ago OPM Records. Strauss, a multifaceted artist known for his prowess as a pianist, composer, and arranger, has embarked on a musical journey deeply rooted in classical training and honed in the language of jazz.

Arik Strauss’s trajectory has been marked by a diverse array of experiences and collaborations. After spending a significant part of his twenties and thirties in New York, he mastered his artistry in American jazz music, collaborating with esteemed musicians such as Ron McClure, Akira Tana, and Shonzo Ono and a notable chapter in his New York experience involved working with Mercer Ellington as the arranger for a tribute to Ellington’s legendary father.

Over the years, Strauss has performed at festivals and clubs across the globe, leaving his musical imprint in Israel, Paris, Prague, and Berlin. In 2010, he represented his homeland as an artist-in-residence at the Cité Internationale des Arts in Paris, adding another layer to his diverse artistic journey. His recent residence in Berlin, spanning five years, proved to be a creatively fertile period, during which he recorded two albums. His noteworthy “Closing the Circle” received a 4.5-star review from Jan Veldman on this platform.

Now, Arik Strauss unveils his tenth album, “Solitude,” recorded in Berlin with the support of the Senatsverwaltung für Kultur und Europa, Berlin. This album marks a significant milestone in his expansive discography, reflecting a profound shift in his artistic expression. The decision to record the album as a piano solo was influenced by the challenges posed by the pandemic, making larger group recordings complicated. Arik also felt a personal inclination towards a solo expression after two trio albums. The result is an intimate collection of pieces that resonate with authenticity and depth.

Crafted amidst the peak of the global pandemic, the album serves as a testament to his resilience and introspection during these challenging times. Arik Strauss chose the album’s title, “Solitude,” to reflect the state of mind he inhabited during the composition and recording process, at the height of the worldwide crisis. With only his piano as a companion, Arik found solace in connecting with nature and loved ones, aiming to instill hope for better days within himself and those around him. The album, he says, serves as a musical portrayal of the human spirit prevailing over adversity.

Speaking about some of the individual tracks contained within this set, Arik explains, “I draw inspiration from personal experiences and the lives of my loved ones. Tracks such as ‘My Friend Ido’ pay homage to a friend lost during the pandemic, while ‘Ahuva’ commemorates my mother-in-law, a beloved figure whose name in Hebrew means ‘loved one.'” Nature’s grandeur and the changing seasons also play a significant role in shaping the album, evident in tracks like “Winter Song,” “Snow,” and “Floating River.”

In a unique twist, vocalist Sigal Adler Strauss joins Arik on two tracks, bringing an added layer of emotion to the melodies. Sigal, having contributed her vocals to Arik’s previous recordings, enhances the atmospheric quality of the album, further amplifying the emotional resonance.

“Solitude” stands as a poignant expression of Arik Strauss’s ability to channel personal experiences into musical narratives, creating an introspective and hopeful resonance that transcends the boundaries of the instrument. The album serves as a testament to the resilience of the human spirit, a reflection on the profound loneliness experienced during the global pandemic, and a message of hope amidst adversity.

Interestingly, “Solitude” is one of two albums recorded during the same sessions in Berlin. The second album, scheduled for a later release, will feature the works of Arik’s grandfather, Arie Ludwig Strauss, a renowned German writer, poet, and scholar who fled Germany in 1936. Arik shares, “The grant we received from the Senatsverwaltung für Kultur und Europa, Berlin, allowed us to record not only this solo piano recording but also music that I wrote to poems of my grandfather and the poetess Lea Goldberg.”

This unique twist adds another layer of depth to Arik Strauss’s artistic journey, as he delves into the legacy of his grandfather and explores the intersection of music, poetry, and personal history. The forthcoming album promises to further showcase Strauss’s versatility and his ability to weave together diverse artistic threads into a cohesive and captivating musical tapestry.

“Solitude” is a remarkable achievement in Arik Strauss’s discography, a testament to his resilience, introspection, and artistic prowess. Through this solo piano album, Strauss has crafted a deeply personal and emotionally resonant work that speaks to the human experience during times of crisis and uncertainty. With its intimate expressions, poignant tributes, and reflections on the natural world, “Solitude” is a must-listen for those seeking a profound captivating listening experience.

Track Listing:
1. Have No Fear Believe In Hope – Opening | 2. Floating River | 3. Peace March | 4. Solitude | 5. Winter Song | 6. Snow | 7. Its About Time | 8. My Friend Ido | 9. Ahuva | 10. Have No Fear Believe In Hope – Closing

Arik Strauss, piano | Sigal Adler Strauss, voice (tracks 2, 5)

Release Date 26 January 2024
Format: Streaming
Labe: OPM Records


Last modified: May 8, 2024