Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Review: Anne Trenning - Watching For Rain


Anne Trenning – Watching For Rain
2009, Shadetree Records


Anne Trenning is back with her third full-length album, Watching For Rain. The Chicago born resident of Charlotte, North Carolina had per previous album, All One World, ranked as one of the top 5 albums of the year by New Age Reporter. Watching For Rain features ten original songs plus five covers or re-interpretations. Trenning mines Classical, New Age, Pop, Jazz and Celtic influences across the fifteen tracks presented here for a sonically interesting but mellow listening experience.

Watching For Rain opens with a gorgeous arrangement of Welsh folk song The Ash Grove on piano and strings. This song has been adapted for everything from Chamber Pieces to hymns in the Anglican church. As much as Trenning is lauded as a pianist, the violin is the star of this arrangement, dancing and trading leads with the piano in a wonderful duet. Silent Night II is a magical composition full of energy and beauty. The piano is reserved enough to allow the strings to soar, but brings the song home in a moment of utter musical grace. Eden Hall, sometimes recast as Simple Gifts or The Shaker Song, is given a full Celtic workup here; you’ll wonder how you ever heard it otherwise once Trenning is done. Carolina Moon is a lively waltz with a bit of swing feel to it that will have you looking for a dance partner.

Perhaps the most pleasant surprise on the album is the treatment of When You Say Nothing At All. Perhaps the best known version of this song is the Allison Krauss recording, but numerous artists have covered this tune. The piano/strings arrangement is wonderfully reverent without sounding like elevator music. There is real life to this recording and it is a very enjoyable listen. Other highlights include A Prayer For The World, You And Me, I Want To Be Ready and Benediction.

Solo piano albums choose two paths; reverence to their subjects/styles or cutting new ground. Those that choose the more common path walk a fine line reverence and cliché. It takes more than technical ability to walk this line confidently and without fear; it takes talent and heart, neither of which can be learned. Anne Trenning has both. Watching For Rain manages to inhabit the world of New Age/Classical recordings without falling into unwitting self-parody or “Available on TV” cliché. Trenning’s creations and arrangements come to life at her fingertips. Don’t try to use this CD as dinner music unless you want to end up talking about the music. Come to think of it, that’s not a bad idea.

Rating: 4 Stars (Out of 5)

You can learn more about Anne Trenning at http://www.annetrenning.com/. There’s a link on Trenning’s web site allowing you to purchase Watching For Rain on CDBaby.com, but it does not appear to be working at this time. Keep checking back to her web site for updates.

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