Review: Solo, Yiruma 20th Anniversary

If you haven’t heard the name Yiruma, then even if it’s unknowingly, I’m sure you’ve heard ‘River Flows in You’, probably his most iconic piano piece. South Korean-born pianist composer, Lee Ru-ma, better known by his stage name, Yiruma, released his debut album, Love Scene, in 2001. Over 20 years on, we can all celebrate the breadth and variety in Yiruma’s music in these beautiful volumes from Faber Music, Solo: Yiruma 20th Anniversary. I say two volumes, but in actual fact, there is one volume, published in both standard and easy piano arrangements: a genius idea some might say!

Kiss the Rain boy Yiruma
Kiss the Rain (easy)

If you’ve heard ‘River Flows in You’, then I think you’ve had a taste of Yiruma’s music; however, if you haven’t explored any further, I think you might be in for a pleasant surprise. That’s not to say that ‘River Flows in You’ is unpleasant, far from it, but rather, there are many other equally beautiful and stylish compositions to explore. Solo: Yiruma 20th Anniversary contains 14 pieces for solo piano, including the aforementioned ‘River Flows in You’. As I’ve said before, in a crowded marketplace, and with more and more music being made available as digital downloads, publishers are having to work harder than ever to ensure theirs stand out. As with The Harry Potter Piano Anthology which I reviewed last year, these volumes from Faber Music are of the highest quality. Much thought and design has gone into the production and presentation of these books. They are high quality publications, not just filled with the music itself, but with photographs too. These ‘extras’ are, of course, unnecessary, but they do help publications such as these stand out. We buy them to last a lifetime, something not particularly at the forefront of the minds of those selling digital downloads.

Solo, Yiruma 20th Anniversary

Like many of you, ‘River Flows in You’ is the extent of my Yiruma knowledge, so it was a great joy to have the opportunity, through these books, to explore a wider selection of his music. The books contain Yiruma’s own scores, matching those on the album of the same title, and he writes:

I have compiled a list of my pieces for solo piano that have existed for a long time. These works were the simplest way of capturing a specific moment and feeling when I wrote them. I would like to share these moments with you now and wish sincerely that my music be a hand to hold along the winding path of life.

I really like this philosophy, that somehow, the music reflects the place we are at a particular time. I think that is as true for pianists as it is for composers.

Destiny of Love

I was particularly appreciative of the easy piano version of Solo: Yiruma 20th Anniversary; perhaps other publishers are missing a trick here? The easy piano version of the book is just as attractive, and most importantly, the arrangements are effective, losing little of their more complex counterparts. I especially liked to see them described as ‘accessible arrangements for beginner pianists’ rather than the somewhat derogatory and ill-defined term, ‘easy piano’. Perhaps this is another shift publishers could make?

Solo, Yiruma 20th Anniversary
River Flows in You

Overall, these are beautiful and attractive volumes of music for reflection and enjoyment. They are high quality in their presentation, clear in their layout, and timeless in their philosophy. Appealing to students and pianists of all ages, they are worthy additions to our already crowded shelves.

[This post contains affiliate links]

Solo: Yiruma 20th Anniversary is published by Faber Music in two versions:

Original, ISBN 0571542972, RRP £15.99
Easy, ISBN 0571542980, RRP £15.99

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

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