McCann, long a master of the ambient soundscape, crosses here almost completely into classical composition. His works still have an immersive feel about them, sparse and dry as museum air, but he's added a beating heart of emotion within that cocoon of parched atmosphere. The pieces were written over the course of the last four years but they play like a meshed suite that rises and falls with the panoramic swell of McCann's stringwork. The strings soar against the hum of cotton ball drones, the atmospherics threatening to take over the focus but hammered back each time the live instruments flutter. Conversely, McCann's piano pieces play into the somber pull of the sonics, no less full of emotive grace but certainly allowing the tone to shift from any trace of ebullience to pinpricks of doubt and shame. Here, the artist truly takes a step forward into academic territory, proving that he can strike the balance between studio wiz and conductor and for that dichotomy, Ten Impressions For Piano & Strings is all the better.
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