SINGLE REVIEW FOR “Surrender” (for piano and orchestra) Composer-Pianist Pam Asberry Orchestrator-Deborah Offenhauser Review by Kerry Barnes
Introduction. What a team Pam and Deborah are! A perfect partnership in music, surrendering themselves to this creative calling, succumbing to it’s commandment! ….like birds in full flight, on the wing and with their eyes on the prize. S U R R E N D E R Drumming, deep and persistent, a stirring force from all directions, and thus this beauty is born! Pam’s left hand piano octaves cut even deeper for a moment, before an off-beat melody in unison between piano and brass joins in. This seven-note wonder in a robust forte starts to build, then bam, a harsher trumpet in it’s upper register makes itself known. Phrases begin to extend fitting in extra space for five-four time…genius ladies! Soaring and sweeping strings are a welcome friend, absolutely beautiful in their arrangement, and they allow the piano to a little more punctuated terrain. Now, it feels romantic and voluptuous, and my spine tingles with magnificent crescendos. It’s all rather epic and cinematic and before you know it……the mighty metronomical drum pattern is back…..bit of a demon in disguise. At this point, I’m feeling a little uneasy, what’s coming next I ask myself??? Then all is revealed, a very bright and golden trumpet, like a fanfare to my delicate ears! A reflective Pam, who is a lady of inner steel, humbly concedes and hands over her original creation to Deborah, who is such a sensitive orchestrator. This duo are in complete symbiosis, in a way that a power-ballad loves Celine Dion. The brass in this track is brilliant. A mellow French horn joins in a wonderful rousing crescendo and embraces Pam’s dominant-pedal, made from the tonic chord in second inversion, and coupled with a suspended fourth and it’s resolution…..what more could you ask for!!!!
Pam’s vertical harmonies are statuesque and impressive, and I am struck by her ability to carve out massive boulders of sound, then instantly, switch to filigreed melodies laced with contemporary charm. At 1.23, and again, the French horn and piano embrace as a deep bass sits down for a rumble in the jungle! Large triplet rhythm chords, resonant and bell-like, soak in a cantabile tone. Just beautiful. By 1.56 I feel romance and tenderness brush lightly past my face, while amber embers die down, so softly, so sweetly. Then something truly wonderful happens!!.....something exquisitely sparce, religious and Pam is flying solo silhouette. A beautiful hymn-like prayer with a melody to die for, absolutely beautiful, calms us. A sweet yet mournful oboe, cries on her shoulder while she plays and is duly comforted. A warm and soulful violin executes a perfect vibrato, not too fast and not too slow. A welcome cello arrives and says “hey, I will hold you all in my hands, sit with me for a while, and take note of my wonderfully shaped phrases!” This work is full of musical goodies like drama, power, lyricism, light, tempi variants and great sensitivity. Pam cleverly brings back the ‘melody to die for’ but this time with a broken arpeggio in the left hand, giving great breadth and expanse.
Deborah’s oboe sings even higher, while a cello in it’s prime delivers a delectable bass line. I now sense a Coda coming and I wait to be satisfied, and I am not disappointed. The whole crew float gently on delicate thermals, sprayed in silver, just beautiful!! B R A V O L A D I E S ! ! OUTRO. I must tell everyone in closing that Pam has delivered to me something quite profound, and something really needed by a lot of people, and that is a quote by Mary Oliver which says “The most regretful people on earth are those who felt the call to creative work, who felt their own creative power, restive and uprising, and gave to it neither power nor time” END