Painting the Sun CD cover

Painting the Sun paints brilliant colors in the mind's eye!

If you love piano music that can fit any mood, be it a side dish to a relaxing dip in the bathtub, reading music while you're in your hammock on the back patio, some romantic "set the mood" music while you freshen up for your mate, or when you need some alone time to grieve, David Lanz has music for every occasion.
On his newest release, "Painting the Sun", Lanz explores a wide spectrum of emotions. From the touching "Hymn: Sanctuary Rose Rondo in G Minor ", to the darker flavor of "Daybreak Flower", one can easily imagine Lanz sitting at his piano, eyes closed, meditating along with the beauty that pours from his fingertips. When one puts this CD on, along with some low lighting and incense or scented candles burning, it is almost effortless to relax, slow your breathing and lower your blood pressure.

Each track is a delightful length. This CD is not like other piano music CD's, in the sense that with those CD's, sometimes the same song can go on for ten minutes at a time, which is good for meditating, but if you'd like to listen to it in the car or while gardening, it can become monotonous and end up putting you to sleep whether you feel drowsy or not. This CD is not like that at all. It's like a wine-tasting for your ears.

Particularly amusing is the track "Sleeping Dove", which is a bit lighter and breezy in the beginning, but slows down as it unfolds and, depending on what one is looking for within the context of the notes, a hint of darkness can still be detected.

"Her Solitude" is a beautiful track that one could derive sadness from based on the title alone. But it can also be looked at as a peaceful track, like maybe all she needed was a hint of solitude to be free and finally unchained. The title track seems to carry with it a bit of hope somehow, like by listening to it, you just know that somehow, everything will be okay in the end.

"The Enchantment" can also carry a title bias, since at first listen, you might think it to have a darker, sadder tone, but knowing the title, it is easier to imagine a prince and a princess at a ball where she is holding out her hand and he is taking it, kissing it, trying to win her over. And she is slowly melting into his eyes with her own.

"Midnight Reverie" has a slightly swifter tempo, one that could make us feel like trouble is looming on the horizon, or not even necessarily trouble, just something that would get our adrenaline up and excite us, whether for the good or the bad. Maybe we are going to the beach to meet a lover and he or she is waiting patiently for us on the rocks at the forefront of the ocean. Or maybe we just found out that a relative is in the hospital and we need to get to them as quickly as we can to find out the situation. Either way, we are stuck with a sense that we need to act quickly or we could miss something important.

"First Snow" is a pretty tune. We can imagine going out into the world where everything is covered in white but the snow still steadily falls. We spot a nearby lake that has frozen over and we slip into our ice skates and have our first peaceful skate of the new winter.

"Evening Song" is another decadent piece in which we can just imagine sitting in our sun room, reading a book with only the lamp next to us for light. The rest of the world has gone to sleep, it's summer and it's dark outside. The moonlight reflects off of the lake behind us and the crickets are chirping but aside from that, there is peace in the world.

"Spanish Blue" is different from the rest of the album in the sense that it has a higher-pitched beginning and a generally different sound. Ironically, since this song is towards the beginning of the CD, it sounds like a completion type of song. Everything has been fixed, everyone has gone inside for supper and this is the song that plays them out. We don't know what will be next for them but we can only imagine peace.

Lanz also takes on an old favorite with The Byrds' "Turn Turn Turn (To Everything, There is a Season)". His tones help to elevate and transform the classic 60's tune into a relaxing ride until we finally realize what we are listening to and smile, saying, "hey! I know this song!" His take on the notes of the chorus is absolutely delightful.

This CD has a lot of personality and if you were a fan of Lanz's work before, you should definitely consider picking this up. If not, you should try it out, give it a listen--you just might end up truly enjoying what you hear!

Kailyn Terlato
Long Island Pop Culture Examiner
July 23, 2009

The New and Improved Palette

I've been a devoted fan of contemporary pianist David Lanz from the beginning. That would be the early eighties for you music history buffs. Lanz is probably one of the most consistent performers on the planet. Until now. Whenever I think of his music, I think of a landscape artist. Broad strokes of music that develop an overall sense of the big picture. His new album Painting the Sun changes all that. Apparently, he is doing portraits now. Compositions that are intricate, close up and with fine details have appeared on his musical canvas. Ah, to be a collector. Lanz has taken a break from his numerous public performances and his dedication is evident on this new body of work. The music is more than introspective. Like ripples in a pond, the constructs expand and reflect a deep sense of emotion. It was always there of course, but for me it just came into focus.

The suggestion from the title tune Painting the Sun is of course, at first glance, impossible to achieve. No man can withstand the heat and brilliance of a star. However, there are other suns to seize. There is sometimes an inner light that outshines all else. It is this human light, this aura that permeates every pore that makes a smile shine and the skin glow. It is this light that can be painted with careful notes and musical nuances. David's tune captures that light and it is there for all to see, bright, clear and pure.

David covers a 1960's Byrds hit tune called Turn Turn Turn. Almost everybody knows it, but David's music says it best. His composition has a rich body and tone and it is a reminder from the past that is every bit as profound for the present. The tune has so much history with its roots in the bible's book of Ecclesiastes and a strong lyric by folksinger Pete Seeger that it richly deserves its reprise on the album. I guess David added a bit more color to it as he was painting.

Evening Song has an Erik Satie feel to it, slow, warm, and spiraling as it gives the impression of the sky turning to cobalt and the sun evaporating with the daylight. The song has several parts and the middle of the piece is a memento of David in the old days. I could imagine the crickets singing in the background as the stars become prominent and the heat of the day is released back into the atmosphere. I was happy that it was a long piece and I wanted it to go on and on.

Daybreak Flowers was a study in bold primary colors. It is the opening of a purple morning glory on a luminous canvas of sunlight. It is the sound of fresh growth and dew drenched leaves that open to a new sky. It is the sound of promise.

The final cut Sleeping Dove is again vintage Lanz with new strokes on a fresh setting of light. The music conveys not only the softness of wings at rest, but also that of a quick heartbeat. It is gentleness and a soothing sound of breathing. All this and more as the well-known bird of peace gathers it strength to make a profound and much needed appearance in a restless world.

This is one of David Lanz's best albums to date. It is a renaissance from a man that founded the contemporary piano genre more than thirty years ago. Although this painter of music uses vibrant new colors and carefully chosen brushstrokes, it is good to know that many of the tunes have the talent of the Old Word master. Highly recommended.

Rating: Excellent
Reviewed by RJ Lannan on 3/3/2009
The Sounding Board -

Just when you thought you had adjusted to the new mystic musical collaborations of David Lanz and Gary Stroutsos another curve ball comes your way. Once again David changes his musical landscape and harkens a return to the effortless but rich solo piano performances one has come to expect from Lanz. "Painting The Sun" simply put adds to one of the many masterpieces created by this humble legend.

With brother Gary Lanz assisting David behind the production board, the sound is complimented by the stunning front cover artwork of Painting The Sun. This time around, rather than releasing the album via his own label or his website, the veteran label Shanachie is given the task to distribute his latest epic to the general public. There are no embellishments or additional musicians and instead merely David Lanz and his Yamaha C7-F11 Acoustic Grand Piano. It is the unadulterated pure piano performances that Lanz is so capable of creating and with the exception of the cover interpretation of “Turn Turn Turn” the songs are all self composed.

The album begins with three sweet melancholy compositions in a row that have all the ingredients of the graceful reserved performances found on his 1988 smash "Cristofori’s Dream." In addition, “Her Solitude” flows with a soft sense of ceremonial regality to it, later matched by the refined and charming “Hymn”. Countered with the flirtatious snowfall dance of “First Snow” by now the album gives you a sense that there is something very special in the air. Though the song begs an ambient atmospheric guitar performance from Paul Speer alas it was not to be. Nevertheless with or without Paul Speer, “First Snow” is one of the stronger “sunrays” of "Painting The Sun." That style is also revisited by the closer, “Sleeping Dove” concluding another gem of an album that seems to be consistently attached to the name David Lanz.

It has been twenty five years since the general listening public was exposed to the musical tapestry of David Lanz courtesy of his 1983 debut "Heartsounds." Since then David Lanz has explored several musical genres and despite his wanderlust he has always created beautiful musical landscapes. After adapting to the recent musical adventures with Stroutsos, the change in gears was a bit of a surprise. Nevertheless, "Painting The Sun" is an exceptional creation that shows no signs that the sun is setting on the musical horizons of this highly prolific and picturesque legendary pianist. 

Reviewed by Michael Debbage

One might think that after all of the recordings David Lanz has released over the past twenty-five or so years, he would start running out of musical ideas. He told me a few years ago that when he moved from Seattle to a quieter area in Washington State, it was with the idea of slowing down and possibly retiring, but since that time, Lanz has produced some of his very best music.

I recall saying that the music for “Living Temples” was perhaps his best work, but I think he has topped even that album with “Painting The Sun.” Here, Lanz has returned to his solo piano roots, free to follow his muse and bring to life music that corresponds with who he is now rather than ten or even twenty years ago.

This is Lanz’s first release with Shanachie Records, and the recording and cover artwork were completed before he presented it to them. They requested no changes, so this is David Lanz at the piano in its purest form. Introspective and sometimes meditative, this new music is perhaps the least commercial album Lanz has released. That doesn’t mean it isn’t accessible - it is very accessible - but some of the pieces are a bit darker and more exploratory. I’ve played this CD over and over, and hear new things each time. It is also very easy to visualize David Lanz sitting alone at his piano, completely oblivious to the rest of the world, lost in his musical thoughts.


The title track begins the CD in Lanz’s very distinctive style - graceful and elegant with his velvet touch on the piano keys. “Spanish Blue” is more improvised and is stunningly beautiful. Very, very slow and hushed, its color palette is dark and rich. “The Enchantment” is one of my favorites. The opening theme is a minor key waltz that is woven in and out of the piece. The second theme has more of a soul-searching kind of feeling, going deep within - gorgeous! I think my favorite track is “Her Solitude,” which is very spare but so poignant and emotional. Interesting and unusual chords as well as the use of deep bass notes on the piano make this a really compelling piece. David Lanz has always enjoyed interpreting some of his favorite songs from the 1960’s, and this time he has included his take on Pete Seeger’s “Turn, Turn, Turn,“ a huge hit for The Byrds - a great arrangement! The three-part “Sanctuary Rose” is also exceptional. “Evening Song” is quietly reflective and still, melodic yet free. “Midnight Reverie” is also a favorite. A little livelier and more spirited than most of the other tracks, it is colored with a tinge of mystery. “Daybreak Flower” slowly opens and unfolds with grace and beauty. The closing track, “Sleeping Dove,” is an arrangement of a Native American lullaby - gentle and oh so peaceful. What a great album!

This has been an incredible year for piano music, and “Painting The Sun” is sure to be on many favorites lists, including my own! It will be released on August 19, 2008, and will be widely available. I give it my highest recommendation.

Kathy Parsons
August 8, 2008

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