Vanessa Wagner: New album ‘Mirrored’ out now
Quickly following March 2022’s Study of the Invisible album, Vanessa Wagner returns with a new collection of work that paints in many colours. The application of shadow in Mirrored evokes haunting poignancy; the care and delicateness of its negative space leaves room for undulating melodic motifs to ebb and flow; its bold splashes of luminescence are striking and rich. And while the album collates re-interpretations of works by composers as varied as Ryuichi Sakamoto, Philip Glass, Nico Muhly, Moondog, Leo Ferré and Camille Pépin, the potency and effect of the collection as a whole reflects only Vanessa Wagner and the extraordinary breadth of her abilities.
Performing solo, exposed to timbre, tempo and clarity, many of the pieces here – such as “Sea Horses” by (Vanessa’s one-time mentor) Moondog or Philip Glass’ “Etude 4” – demand virtuosic abilities as a performer and interpreter. But in Vanessa Wagner’s hands, they are not only made her own, but made mesmeric and magical by the sensitivity of her touch.
A highly practiced and invaluably unpredictable musician, Vanessa Wagner occupies many twin worlds. She unites conservatoire-classical (she has performed Haydn, Schumann, Schubert, Debussy, Ravel et. al. at highly prestigious concert halls worldwide) with contemporary composition and minimalism. She has both worked alongside electronic musician Murcof and received significant commendation from eminent classical musical institutions in France and abroad. She has both enjoyed awards as a concert pianist and purposefully selected works by emerging and unheard talents within her repertoire. It is little wonder she has been described in print as “the most delightfully singular pianist of her generation” and “one of the most curious and captivating pianists on the French scene.”
Mirrored opens with Philip Glass’ “The Poet Acts”, whose rising spires of melody contrast with tumbling chords at their base. The piece is challenging, but Wagner’s mastery renders it achingly powerful and arrestingly pretty. Later in the album, Vanessa’s interpretation of “Solitude” by Ryuichi Sakamoto yearns with heartbreaking melancholy in its opening, before blooming into floral vibrancy and curiosity at its close. Nico Muhly’s introspective “Quiet Music” marks another highlight.
An exploration of restraint, grace and personal authenticity, its resonating harmonic structures and gossamer tempo are here sophisticated, elegant, exquisitely rewarding like softly whispered poetry. Elsewhere on the album Vanessa picks compositions by young French composers such as the Les Victoires de la Musique composer of the year Camille Pepin and Melaine Dalibert alongside time-honoured masters. Also present are a rare piano work composed by Chanson Française hero Leo Ferré and a solo piece by Parisian ambient-experimental mainstay Sylvain Chauveau. And yet, consistently across Mirrored, the voice we hear most prominently is Vanessa’s own.
This new album has been recorded at TAP-Théâtre-Auditorium de Poitiers and entirely produced in Dolby Atmos version.
Artwork: original sculpture by French artist Laurent Pernot, “The Kiss”. Photo: Marine Keller / Design: Motoplastic