There’s something truly delightful to the ears in Gwilym Simcock's Near and Now, his second full album for solo piano. This follow-up to Good Days at Schloss Elmau shows nearly a decade of development and a refined sense of scale and artistry, although both albums sit well together as a display of virtuosity on the piano.
Simcock’s respect on the international stage is evident not just as a pianist, but also as a composer and Near and Now is both huge in its scale and intimiate in its production. Although the composition took place on the road, while travelling the world, the recording itself all happened in Simcock’s Berlin home. That intimacy is somewhat belied by the beautiful turn of the 20th century Steinway piano which most home studios would not have access to.
The album is a dedication to pianists important to Simcock and the first piece – across three truly beautiful tracks – is Beautiful Is Our Moment, dedicated to Billy Childs.
Listen to Beautiful Is Our Moment, Part 1, here:
Each part is thematically linked to the others and form a stunning whole. A similar three-track composition dedicated to Egberto Giamonti – Many Worlds Away – ends the album with the most improvisatory feel.
In the middle are three pieces showing different sides to this incredibly talented composer and performer, with the central, shortest piece the lyrical You’re My You, dedicated to Les Chisnall, Simcock’s first jazz teacher. There’s an expressive wistfulness which seems to evoke the raw emotion behind the album as a whole. An intimate track at the heart of a stunning album.