Review: Connections (Piano Solos by Darren Day)

Darren Day has, over 25 years, developed a versatile career as a teacher, performer and composer. He is also an examiner for Trinity College, London. He publishes a number of his compositions, both for piano and voice, including this new book, Connections, under the Pianoforte Publishing umbrella.

Connections is a book of 11 piano solos suitable for pianists of around Grades 5-8 level. The composer writes that the book:

‘is a collection of pieces reminding us how music connects us to the past, each other and the world around us, weaving into the very fabric of our lives.’

One thing which immediately struck me about this collection is the breadth of styles represented. Indeed, I have previously lamented the many collections, particularly at the higher grades which focus on only one particular style or period.

80s Aspirations for Piano by Darren Day

The composer states that:

‘If you enjoy Modern Classical music or the music of Ludvico Einaudi, Philip Glass, Burkhard Dallwitz, Max Richter, Yann Tiersen, Alexis Ffrench or Yiruma this is for you!’

Each piece is also attributed a subtitle which give a flavour of the music included in this collection. An ‘ambient solo’, optimistic solo’, ‘hypnotic solo’, ‘joyful dance’ and ‘dramatic solo’ are all represented, amidst pieces which are hopeful, contemplative, minimal, celebratory and passionate.

Connections for Solo Piano by Darren Day

Of the 11 solos included, my favourite by far was ’80s Aspirations’. This is very much in the vein of Christopher Norton’s Rock Preludes and is a piece I hope an exam board would pick up on for inclusion at around Grade 6 level. As the composer says, it is ‘filled with cool grooves and hooks’, and it certainly is.

I also enjoyed ‘Remembering’, a piece which seeks to capture ‘fond recollections of places and people’. In a similar vein, ‘Prelude of Lights’, a celebration of the night sky is evocative and effective in capturing a range of different styles and moods.

Prelude of Lights for Solo Piano by Darren Day

As with other books self-published in this way, the layout is often a little ‘quirky’ with some slightly erratic spacing of both notes and staves. Whilst this is a shame, I don’t think it detracts from the quality of the writing itself. The book offers an effective mix of pieces in contemporary styles for higher-grade pianists with some useful technical challenges to tackle along the way.

Connections by Darren Day is published by Pianoforte Publishing, ISBN 9798697390153, priced £14.50. The collection and individual pieces can also be downloaded from SMP Press at Sheet Music Plus.

I was sent a review copy of this book free of charge; however, this review is my honest opinion as a teacher. You can find my Reviews Policy here.

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