DANCING ON THE WIND

Reviewed by Kathy Parsons, Mainly Piano.com – http://mainlypiano.com/reviews/shoshana-michel-dancing-on-the-wind

Dancing on the Wind is the second solo piano release from Shoshana Michel, following her debut, Soul Whispers (2015). The first album is a collection of Shoshana’s arrangements of soothing Jewish songs known as Chabad Nigunim, but Dancing on the Wind consists of eleven original piano solos. I thoroughly enjoyed Soul Whispers, but Dancing on the Wind is truly exceptional. The music isn’t flashy, but there is a lot of heart in each note and Shoshana’s expressive performance allows us get to know her better. Her playing style is graceful and confident yet often very tender and sometimes quite dramatic.  Shoshana Michel recorded the album at Joe Bongiorno’s Piano Haven Studio on his Shigeru Kawai grand piano, and Bongiorno engineered and mastered the album. The sound quality of the piano is impeccable. Pianists will be happy to know that a companion songbook is on its way. PDFs of all of the pieces on the album are currently available from www.ShoshanaMusic.com.

Dancing on the Wind begins with “When Leaves Dance,” a lively and bittersweet piece that has a swirling energy as it dances all over the piano keys. The very romantic “Heather, Roses and Moonlight” gently tugs at the heartstrings as it warms the soul. The title track dances lightly at the upper end of the piano with a delicate but determined energy. “Love Everlasting” begins in a poignant minor key, moves to a happier major key, and back to the minor, expressing a variety of emotions with the modality changes – a very beautiful piece that ends back in the major key (a happy ending!). “A Night of Lights” has some of the recognizable elements of traditional Jewish music, but also sounds like a music box since it is played mostly at the higher end of the piano. “Gently Flows the River Tranquil” is as peaceful as its title suggests. Played at a leisurely tempo this one really soothes the soul. “Wandering” is my favorite piece on the album. Its moderately propulsive left hand energy is infectious as the right hand explores the piano keyboard. I also really like “Dream’s Journey.” With its lively left hand pattern and compelling minor key melody, this one is my favorite to play (I proofed the sheet music book). “Quiet Valley” was written for Thad Fiscella, a fellow pianist/composer “whose music and kindness continue to inspire me.” (quoted from the liner notes). This lovely piece suggests open spaces and unspoiled nature and the peaceful feelings they evoke – a serene closing to an excellent album.

Dancing on the Wind has been nominated for Album of the Year on Whisperings Solo Piano Radio, and I’m sure that is just the beginning of the honors for this beautiful album. It is available from Amazon, iTunes, and CD. Very highly recommended!

Reviewed by Michael Foster, Ambient Visions http://ambientvisions.com/12092016.htm

Dancing on the Wind is an album of solo piano works from pianist Shoshana Michel that was released a few months ago in September of this year. Dancing is the second album to be released by this artist but it is the first in which she composed and performed the music that she played. The fact that this was her first effort at composing her own music makes this quite an extraordinary album because the quality of what you will find on this album speaks more of a seasoned composer’s efforts than someone who is making their first foray into composing and recording their own music. Dancing on the Wind is filled with 11 of these slices of life and runs a total time of 53:05 which gives Shoshana ample time to dazzle you with her vivid musical portraits that will leave you wondering where the last 53 minutes went before you hit repeat and do it all over again.

The title track Dancing on the Wind is just one of those emotional and honest piano solos that will stick in your mind long after you have listened to it because it’s simplicity and beauty captivate the listener with an outstanding melody and an uplifting theme that carries you along on the currents of the wind. Shoshana demonstrates with this song alone that she is talent to be reckoned with and one that will continue to grow as she moves forward with new music in the years to come. I only chose Dancing on the Wind as an example of the wonderful music you will find on this album not because it was unique among the tracks that you will explore on this project but because it was one of many that will evoke similar responses in the listener. I would be hard pressed to pick favorite tracks off of an album that is filled with music of this caliber.

Shoshana Michel’s music is a  breath of fresh air that belies the environment in which it was created. According to Shoshana’s Bandcamp page she lives in Brooklyn, NY which is like the exact opposite of the music that lives on this new album. She offers quiet, delicate music that speaks to the listener’s heart while having been created in the hustle and bustle of the big city. It just goes to show that even amidst the backdrop of a constant flow of people and events a composer can center on their own breathing and their own inner muse and still create inspired works of solitude that reach beyond their present surroundings and touch that peaceful island that lives within each of us. Continue reading

Reviewed by Candice Michelle, Journeyscapes Radio http://www.journeyscapesradio.com/blog/album_review_of_dancing_on_the_wind_by_shoshana_michel/

Dancing on the Wind is the sophomore album from Shoshana Michel, a pianist and composer whose debut recording, “Soul Whispers”, featured a collection of renditions of Chabad Nigunim. Following that album’s critical reception, Shoshana felt she needed to prove herself as more than just a pianist-arranger, but as a composer as well, so she sat down at her piano and began experimenting. After much determination the melodies simply began overflowing, with the outcome of that process resulting in an exquisite collection of eleven original solo piano compositions.

“When Leaves Dance” is a beautiful opener that begins in the higher register, as fluttering piano notes perfectly illustrate that of dancing leaves in the wind. Lower register notes soon join in adding more fluidity and complexity to the composition, as Shoshana’s hands grace the keys with a perfectly poised touch. Possessing a definite classical bent, the composition’s flowingly potent melody immediately captures the listener’s full attention, which is superbly enhanced by the beautiful tone and reverb of the piano. “Heather, Roses and Moonlight” follows next, which is among the album’s more romantic and contemporary pieces, along with “Love Everlasting” and “Wishing for You”. Other compositions seem to conjure images of nature and the countryside, such as the title track, “Dancing on the Wind”. This lovely number is characterized by delicate droplets over a repeating piano loop, effectively bringing to mind that of tiny leaves whirling amidst the air. Continue reading

Reviewed by Janet Mawdesley, Blue Wolf Reviews http://bluewolf-reviews.com/music/instrumental/dancing-on-the-wind/

Delicately a leaf blows across an open space, the soft morning mists lay on the ground before the day awakens, the gentle fall of a feather in the drifting breeze, are just some of the many images bought to the forefront of the emotions as you listen to the opening piece, When Leaves Dance, in this second solo album from the talented Shoshana Michel.

Heather, Roses and Midnight moves into a deeper, richer use of the piano adding a dreamy, mellowness evocative of the heavy scent of roses after a hot day, the slowing down as the relaxation of evening is there to be enjoyed; savoured.

Dancing on the Wind, the title track, is once again delicate and light, washing away the stresses and leaving in its place a sense of peacefulness; a sense of times past, of fresh new beginnings; of hope.

In these first three tracks you immediately come to understand the power of solo piano played with a light touch, with an engaged sense of emotional creativity and the healing benefits which come from the absolute beauty of sound. Continue reading

Featured article by Michael Diamond, Music and Media Focus 

Although Dancing on the Wind is only pianist Shoshana Michel’s second album, and her first as a composer of original material, she is already being recognized for her talents and is making a name for herself in the solo piano category. Her debut album, Soul Whispers, received critical acclaim as well as extensive radio airplay and was nominated for 2015 Album of the Year by solopiano.com. Shoshana is both a Whisperings Artist (solopianoradio.com) and Enlightened Piano Artist (enlightenedpiano.com). Not bad for a first recording in a highly populated field of talented artists.Dancing on the Wind is being promoted by RS Promotions, which is run by well known new age flutist Sherry Finzer.

Shoshana’s musical background has had a number of twists and turns, in addition to starts and stops. She began at an early age playing piano and accordion and went on to years of classical training. However, the first major shift came when she encountered ragtime music, which inspired a new musical direction for her. At only 17 years old, she became proficient enough in it to play this style professionally in commercial establishments, including the famed Knott’s Berry Farm in southern California, as well as being a piano accompanist in musical theatre productions. Another fork in the road came more recently when Shoshana became aware of a collection of Jewish religious songs called Chabad Nigunim. Her creative arrangements of these spiritual melodies became the basis for Soul Whispers, her debut album.

However, sometimes, fallow periods can be a time for germinating and realizations. A good example of this is the album’s opening track, about which Shoshana shared: “’When Leaves Dance’ is the first piano solo that I composed after not composing for about twenty-four years. I was drawn to and inspired by the movement of the leaves on the tree that is just outside the window by my piano as I was composing this piece.” This song makes a wonderful entry into the album and I loved the rippling arpeggios that capture the feeling of leaves moving in the breeze. I also really liked the minor key chord progression that added a subtly dramatic feel – a mellow drama, so to speak.

As the title of “’Heather, Roses and Moonlight” implies, this piece elicits a romantic and impressionistic ambiance that is quite lovely. The delicate strains of the next track, “Dancing On the Wind,” evoked for me, an image of an antique music box with a ballerina. While some of Shoshana’s music is inspired by the beauty of nature and the world around her, other compositions stem from real life events and emotions, which can sometimes be quite poignant. One of these is “Finding The Light Within” which according to Shoshana: “was inspired and dedicated to a young woman who took her own life and to all those that are trying to find their way in a world different from their own.” It’s a deeply moving piece with a wistful air that beautifully and lovingly expresses the emotions behind it. One of my favorite tracks was an emotionally evocative piece entitled “Wishing For You,” which according to Shoshana: “is about those people that we are wishing for, whether they aren’t part of our life yet or were very dear to us but now gone.” A sense of longing permeates this haunting melody, which I found quite touching.

I’m glad that after a long hiatus, this talented artist was able to find her way back to composing. Shoshana Michel has a lot to say musically, and does it in a style that is elegant and expressive, touching on emotions that are both personal to her yet universal in their resonance.

Reviewed by Steve Sheppard, One World Music Radio

Fresh from her success with Soul Whispers, Shoshana Michel is back with a delicious brand new offering called Dancing on the Wind and as I write this in mid-autumn, one could say this is quite seasonal.

The opening track is a real scene setter; I personally found this an emotional piece to listen to, it’s called When Leaves Dance. The rolling piano and melody creates an autumnal vista for us to watch, the delicate notes played by Michel are like those falling leaves themselves, as they drift down they get caught by the cold north wind and blown along a long lonely dusty road.

Shoshana Michel is a very passionate performer and on the next piece called Heather, Roses and Moonlight, you can not only hear that passion, but feel it too. This is a remarkable composition filled full of memories and once more touches the musical heart with the ease of a new sunrise. Note the changes here and the steady and almost cinematic style of construction, which is so very carefully built within this tender arrangement.

The title track is next, Dancing on the Wind, the theme is rich and full of colour, and the melody itself really reminds me in parts of the master David Lanz and Spiral Dance. We can listen to this beautiful solo piano piece and through our minds eyes; we can see the falling leaves from a late autumnal breeze, literally dance with the wind itself.  Continue reading

Reviewed by Donovan Johnson, Enlightened Piano Radio

“Dancing On The Wind” is the latest album release by nationally recognized pianist Shoshana Michel, and is her second neo-classical recording to date. The album is very appropriately titled, and the songs are programmed in a way that flows very smoothly from piece to piece. The overall feel of the music is quite light, melodic, and often dance-like. Although Shoshana is a classically trained pianist, I really wouldn’t categorize this recording as being neo-classical. The structure of the pieces and the generalized feeling that one gets when listening to it is one that is fresh, contemporary, and very modern in it’s composition and technique. Keeping with the theme of the album, it could be said that “Dancing On The Wind” is truly a “breath of fresh air.” My three picks for this recording are the opening track titled “When Leaves Dance,” track six “A Night Of Lights,” and track eight, “Wandering.” Let’s start with the opening track. Continue Reading

Reviewed by Dyan Garris, New Age CD.com  http://www.newagecd.com/dancing-wind-cd-review/ 

From the very opening notes of the graceful Dancing on the Wind, the new solo piano release by Shoshana Michel, the soul feels immediately light and free as a bird.

The first track, “When Leaves Dance”, is perfectly executed, as they all are, with just the right amount of timing, movement, and emotion. Here one can almost imagine exactly what leaves must feel like as they dance on the wind, free to travel wherever they’d like, rather than being haphazardly strewn about without purpose.

Indeed, there is a definitive, flowing purpose to it all. All of the tracks on Dancing in the Wind are like a gentle breeze that prompts us to simply let go of our earthly burdens and allow ourselves to travel with her to where the music leads.

My favorite track on the album is “Heather, Roses and Moonlight”, which has a distinctly lovely and romantic quality to it. “Dream’s Journey”, the pre-outro, sets a nice stage for the last track, “Quiet Valley”. Aptly named, this speaks softly and gently to the spirit with the promise of more even after the ostensible end. Continue reading

SOUL WHISPERS

Reviewed by Steve Sheppard – One World Music

“Shoshana Michel’s album Soul Whispers is a story of the Jews in Russia, an album which opens with a piece that has a sense of deep desire within, but with a mournful hunger, like an aching to be connected with the one. This will capture your feelings and it’s called Ani Z’miros.

Ki Hinei Kachomer is next, the light notes and subtleties on this incredibly performed track are so delicate at times, and in a way quite submissive in its arrangement.

The story of Shamil is told in this next piece with the same title, it’s the story of a leader who led his people with a deep sense of loyalty and honour, but his captures were not so honourable. This lament finds Shamil gazing out of his prison cell into the vastness of the mountain ranges beyond. Michel’s piano is his longing and desire to be free once more, but she also illustrates perfectly his hope in the comfort that knowing one day; he will fly as free as an eagle across those white peaks.

Rostover Nigun is a composition where you can find both a combination of power and grace, and a deep meaningful expression of significance. Once again we can hear and feel that penetrating perception of exploring ones soul to the deepest level; this is an extremely profound and moving piece.

Ya’ale Tachanuneinu is next, a deep passionate piece, you can almost feel a plea to be heard from the performance here, but there is also an underpinned sense of wisdom to be found in this arrangement, this is indeed a cleverly composed track. Continue reading

Reviewed by Kathy Parsons, Mainly Piano.com – http://mainlypiano.com/reviews/shoshana-michel-soul-whispers

Soul Whispers is the debut recording by pianist Shoshana Michel. She has arranged and performed a beautiful collection of twelve soothing Jewish melodies for solo piano. These songs are also known as Chabad Nigunim. Elegantly and soulfully performed, the music is relaxing and spiritually uplifting whether or not you are of the Jewish faith or culture. Shoshana Michel has been playing the piano since she was a child and this music is obviously very dear to her heart. Jewish music tends to be in minor keys with a melancholy feeling to them – distinctive and very emotionally stirring. Shoshana Michel’s arrangements are full and rich, but they are not overly embellished or flashy, allowing the haunting melodies to stand on their own and speak their messages without a lot of fanfare. Her arrangements have a contemporary sound while honoring the deep and ancient traditions of the music. If you enjoy lovely spiritual solo piano music, I’m quite sure you’ll thoroughly love Soul Whispers. “

Reviewed By Darla Bower, Enlightened Piano Radio – http://www.enlightenedpiano.com/Shoshana-Michael.html

In her debut CD, Shoshana Michel recorded and performed a heartfelt collection of twelve (12) Jewish arrangements titled Soul Whispers. These Jewish melodies are also called Chabad Nigunim that as the CD says “nourish the soul.” My interpretation of what Chabad Nigunim means is – songs of the people. A particular people – the Jews in Russia. Ms. Michel fell in love with Chabad Nigunim and desired to share these lovely melodies. Ms. Michel is classically trained, starting lessons as a child and plays ragtime piano professionally. For more in depth biographical information, please be sure to visit her website- www.shoshanamusic.com.

Each piece is steeped in ancient tradition and speaks of an ancient story. My experience with Jewish pieces is that they tend to be written in minor keys which give them hauntingly beautiful tones and rich melodies. I find the arrangements on Soul Whispers to be very rich in melodic tone and texture illustrating a piano story of Jewish journey. These melodies are emotive and contemporary in sound while honoring a deep ancient tradition and heritage. The word Nigun is named in several of the titles and means “melodies without words.”

Several tracks are particularly noteworthy and worth mention. Shamil -track number 3 is the story of Shamil, a leader who led his people with honor and speaks of his captivity and longing for freedom. I love the arpeggios throughout this lament of longing. These arpeggiatos are skillfully woven in this arrangement and lend to its emotional and spiritual impact. Continue reading

Pianist Debuts Piano Solo Album of Chabad Nigunim,  Chabadinfo.com – http://chabadinfo.com/video/pianist-debuts-piano-solo-album-of-chabad-nigunim/

Soul Whispers is the newly released piano solo collection of Chabad nigunim performed by Lubavitch pianist/composer Shoshana Michel. The nigunim, which is purely piano solo, is played in a flowing New Age/Neo-Classical style. This long awaited album stirs the heart and touches the soul.

Classically trained, Shoshana started taking music lessons at the age of seven and was playing the piano professionally by the age of 17. It was when she became a ba’al teshuvah as an adult, that she was exposed to the beautiful melodies of Chabad nigunim.

But it wasn’t until Shoshana was invited to perform at a Rosh Chodesh Kislev women’s gathering that she sat down at the piano to put together and arrange nigunim to play for the event. “Playing nigunim felt natural and came easily to me. It was as if my soul was guiding my hands”, Shoshana recalls. Shoshana wasn’t prepared for the positive reaction that her playing aroused. “I don’t think that I really understood the power of nigunim until that time, nor did I realize the effect my playing could have on others.” The positive responses of listeners, moved by her soulful renditions of Chabad nigunim, encouraged her to produce her debut album of piano solos, Soul Whispers. The nigunim chosen for this album include Anim Z’miros, Ki Hinei Kachomer, Shamil, Rostover Nigun, Ya’ale Tachanuneinu, V’Nislach, several Nigunim L’Shabbos V’Yom Tov and Ani Ma’amin. Continue reading

CHEERS

“I listened to all of your album (Dancing on the Wind) and it is absolutely beautiful in every way.  Beautiful compositions, excellent playing and an excellent recording.”

David Hicken, Pianist/composer/author, http://www.davidhicken.com/

“Shoshana’s pianistic arrangements of these melodies are tasteful and respectful, and the tone quality of her playing (and of the recording itself) is refined and elegant. Speaking as someone that’s not from the Jewish faith, it’s not really necessary to know these nigunim in order to enjoy and appreciate Soul Whispers, as Shoshana’s playing and arrangements are really just so beautiful and romantic. The modal harmonies of these Jewish tunes evoke an otherworldly, ancient era. I find that these ancient modal harmonies sound surprisingly fresh to modern ears, but that’s really thanks to Shoshana’s superb idiomatic arrangements for piano. I think this recording would be appropriate for reflective purposes:  religious services, yoga classes, solo meditation, massage therapy, or simply just to relax and fall asleep by. One doesn’t need to know the melodies to revel in their shared beauty and poignancy.”

 Richard DowlingConcert Pianist/Owner of Dowling Music, http://www.richard-dowling.com/

“Shoshana’s music is beautiful, uplifting and moving. It takes you on a spiritual journey. I Highly recommend it!

Breindy Klawansky, Musician/Composer, Breindy & Matt

“I have been listening to your beautiful CD this morning. Oh, my!!! It is hauntingly beautiful!!!!!”

Cathy Oakes, Pianist/Composer, http://cathyoakessolopiano.com/

“I am sitting here just listening to your music and it is so hauntingly beautiful, I just felt like I had to tell you that. I don’t usually listen to instrumental music but this is so meaningful. Thank you for sharing it with us.”

Chana G.

“Master pianist Shoshana Michel has created a lovely collection of classical piano arrangements based on Chassidic melodies (niggunim). Her playing is graceful and flowing and her tone is rich and resonant (thanks to her technique but also thanks to the high-quality recording and production). The total effect really does touch your soul.

I love this CD and I have it in regular rotation for car rides, to relax and enjoy the drive, and to sing along with the familiar melodies with beautiful piano backing me up! It’s also a great mood-fixer for children. Everyone immediately takes a deep breath and feels calmer when I play it.

Shoshana’s music would create the perfect atmosphere for a wedding reception (or other occasion). My daughter will actually be getting married in a few weeks and this is one of two CDs that we plan to use during quieter moments between live music sets.

I’ve wanted a more “listenable” form of these niggunim for years. They should feel meditative and uplifting. These piano renditions are very easy on the ears, and for me, listening to them makes me feel transported to a soulful place, as niggunim should do.

Whether or not you are already familiar with the melodies, I think everyone would enjoy these gorgeous performances and feel moved by them. The heart and soul of this music is the niggunim, but it is also just beautiful classical-style music.”

Yael Resnick