Reviews

“Here, again, is a beautiful collection in every sense, and one to genuinely cherish. Simply, Piano Postcards is a collection which is not to be missed.” - Pianodao (July 2023)

Adrian Lord: PIANO POSTCARDS Sheet Music Book

It’s rare that I include self-published material in the Pianodao Music Library, but I was quick to make an exception for the exceptional Piano Meditations by Knutsford-based pianist and composer Adrian Lord, which I reviewed here a couple of years ago, writing:
“There’s no denying that these pieces want a seat at a crowded table, but nor is there any escaping the point that Lord’s music ascends to a higher altitude than most. And significantly, his pieces are not simply evocative and relaxing to listen to but are no less engaging and rewarding to sit down and play.”

Lord has continued to extend his loyal fan base, and is now back with a new collection, which builds on his approach of blending the aesthetic of Einaudi with a pastel pastoralism redolent of the music of these Isles. Piano Postcards is now available on CD, streaming services, and as the sumptuous sheet music collection which is the subject of this review…

Ten Postcards:

Piano Postcards introduces ten new compositions, each of them a musical souvenir evoking memories of a place Lord has visited. He tells us,
“I’ve been fortunate to experience so many breathtaking places throughout my life and they’ve certainly proved a strong influence on my piano compositions. I’m excited to share these new compositions and hope that my listeners will be able to picture themselves in these very special locations.”

The scenes portrayed range from a park in Cheshire where the composer wiled away his childhood, to recollections of an unforgettable piano concert in Milan, and holidays in the magical Western Isles of Scotland. His particular love the Great British Outdoors looms large as he invokes images of Llandudno’s Victorian pier, the spa town of Moffat in Scotland, the Peak District, Wainwright Fells and Scottish lochs.

The full list of pieces is: Oak Meadow, Bon Voyage, Crimson Lake, Bluebell Dale, Dark Sky, On the Beach, Castle Crag, Teatro, Seann Taigh, Wish You Were Here

Lord’s recording was captured at Potton Hall in Suffolk on their Steinway Model D piano in November 2021; it can be purchased on CD from his website and streamed on Apple Music and Spotify. You can also hear three of the tracks here, performed by the composer:

Picture-Perfect:

If Lord’s music is sublime, the presentation of the sheet music folio is similarly and suitably superb, a gloss card cover concealing 44 pages on cream paper, with outstandingly lucid music engraving interspersed with full-page colour images of the visual “postcards” created by Millie Moth to accompany the music.

These delightful artworks are especially lovely, and also appear in the CD booklet for those purchasing the recording. My copy of the book even arrived with a literal postcard, showing five Millie Moth creations in a montage that reminded me of the five-pence postcards of the Norfolk Broads that I inexplicably treasured as a child.

Back to the book, and it is also blessed with an introductory note presenting each of the ten pieces, outlining the memory it evokes, as well as delivering colour photographs of the composer and his previous publications.
The Piano Postcards sheet music book is clearly a labour of love, and one which seems above criticism. I should however note, for those who are interested in this, that the scores do not include fingering or pedalling suggestions, which are left to the player to determine.

Closing Thoughts:

As with his Piano Meditations, Piano Postcards has a wonderfully elevating quality that permeates the stunning production as much as the music itself. Here, again, is a beautiful collection in every sense, and one to genuinely cherish.

I will have no hesitation recommending the publication to players who I teach at around Grades 5-6 level, who will undoubtedly enjoy Lord’s intuitive piano writing, contemporary aesthetic, and evocative musical imagination.  Simply, this is a collection which is not to be missed. To find out more, purchase copies of the CD or sheet music publication, please take a moment to visit Adrian Lord’s website here.

Andrew Eales - PIANODAO (July 2023)

Read the review here

“Piano Postcards is a lovely concept that captures moments from Adrian’s travels and translates them into unique melodies”  (Piano Postcards) - Jem Girl At The Piano (June 2023)

I am pleased to share my review of classical pianist, Adrian Lord‘s latest album, Piano Postcards. I first met Adrian in 2021, with the release of his previous album Piano Meditations. Adrian is the first instrumental artist who I support at the blog, and it’s always refreshing to hear new music from him.

His latest offering is a piano instrumental album titled Piano Postcards. The album’s aim is to transport the listener to the places that have inspired Adrian’s compositions or to their own favourite places. I am a Grade 7 ABRSM pianist myself, and so I am naturally drawn to listening to Adrian’s peaceful melodies, as my music taste also enjoys the calming melodies of instrumental music.

I kindly received the music book and accompanying CD from Adrian, so that I can share my review, should you also be interested and willing to purchase. If you are interested in Adrian’s previous album too, you can read my review of Piano Meditations.

Piano Postcards is a lovely concept that captures moments from Adrian’s travels and translates them into unique melodies. Suitable for piano grades 5-7, the music book is beautifully laid out with clear and precise information for the piano player. The tracklisting is as follows:

1) Oak Meadow, 2) Bon Voyage, 3) Crimson Lake, 4) Bluebell Dale, 5) Dark Sky, 6) On The Beach, 7) Castle Crag, 8) Teatro, 9) Seann Taigh, 10) Wish You Were Here

The album opens with Oak Meadow which starts seems to start on a solemn, haunting melody, but would be a joy to play, as it is very expressive. Bon Voyage is rather uplifting, and has a beautiful crescendo during its chorus. Crimson Lake picks up pace straight away and veers on the more dramatic side. Bluebell Dale has a unique arrangement that sounds like more than one person is playing the piano. Dark Sky is a more laid back piece compared to the previous ones. The pace and melody pick up again with On The Beach, which is definitely a breezy summer melody. Castle Crag is a standout haunting melody. Teatro slows the pace down once more so that we can catch a breath. The album ends with the famous phrase Wish You Were Here, a true reflection of Piano Postcards and a quieter end to the overall album.

So there you have it, my exclusive review of Adrian’s latest music offering, which releases next month! You can follow Adrian on all the usual social media platforms and listen to his music on the popular streaming platforms.

Read her review here

“Stressed out? - Well, we'd come to the right place for a blissful hour with pianist, Adrian Lord." - Buxton Fringe 2022

Stressed out? Anger Management Issues? Contemplating the meaning of life? Well, we’d come to the right place for a blissful hour with pianist, Adrian Lord. This was an audience in the round and made all the more special by this intimate set up.

I am not a piano aficionado by any stretch, but as with many happy accidents at the Fringe I was lucky enough to see Adrian at his first Buxton Festival Fringe performance back in 2019, where I was blown away by the sheer gorgeousness of his music. Three years later and this award-winning composer/pianist did not disappoint. Inspired by the landscapes of his travels he purposely selected his most calming original compositions for this ‘Soul Repair’ performance, all within the wonderful acoustics of Buxton Methodist Church.

Opening with ‘Northern Lights’ from his 2018 second album ‘Sky Blue Piano’, the room was immediately entranced and fortunate enough to hear Adrian’s first ever live performance of ‘Discovery’ from that same album.

This was followed by selections from his third album ‘Piano Meditations’ (premiered at Buxton Fringe Festival 2021), including ‘Snowfall’, ‘Evermore’, and the totally sublime ‘Space’ which I urge you to check out on your music streaming service of choice.

Adrian spoke with enthusiasm about the composition to performance process, enticing us with talk of new 2022 works in the pipeline and a sneak preview of ‘Wish You Were Here’.

The set ended with five pieces from Adrian’s 2017 first album 'Journey- Twelve Romances for Piano', recorded in Crear, Scotland. This included ‘Footsteps’ and ‘The Wedding’ (a favourite from my 2019 review). He then concluded our listening pleasure with ‘Time to Remember’, followed by an encore of ‘Little Star’.

I'm running out of superlatives for his music… uplifting, dreamy, haunting, atmospheric etc just don’t seem to cut it. What a talent, I could have listened all day, but after a wonderful hour we all emerged into a sunny Buxton afternoon in a bit of a daze.

With only one performance this year make sure you earmark Adrian Lord for Buxton Festival Fringe 2023, where hopefully we’ll be lucky enough to hear yet more fantastic music from his pending fourth album.

Karen Wain-Pimlott

Read their concert review here

“I really think that all five pieces here are something quite special.” - Pianodao (November 2021)

Adrian Lord: PIANO MEDITATIONS Sheet Music Book

The challenges of self-publishing cannot be overstated, and generally when a composer sends me work they have put together themselves I am left wishing they had found an established publisher to edit, advise, and produce the best score.

Not so in the case of Adrian Lord, whose recently arrived Piano Meditations is so superbly presented that it could even leave those big companies blushing. I am equally happy to report that neither is the collection simply a triumph of style over substance: Lord’s music is absolutely wonderful.

Piano Meditations is a real find. Read on for the full Pianodao review…

Piano Meditations

British pianist and composer Adrian Lord studied at the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester, and at Colchester Institute’s School of Music, where he took composition lessons with Alan Bullard and Christopher Ball.

He has spent much of his life writing short, uplifting piano pieces in an accessible “new classical” vein, and performing them around the UK. In 2016 he released his debut album Journey: Twelve Romances for Piano, and a second album Sky Blue Piano followed in 2018.

During the Coronavirus lockdown of 2020 Adrian gave twice-weekly performances on Facebook Live, so people could watch whilst at home, about which he tells us, “The pieces I chose for this were from my first two albums… people tell me that it is the slower and more relaxed pieces that they have found a connection with during this time. For this book I have decided to continue this theme. The five pieces I have composed are designed to be played with an unhurried feel and a relaxed approach to time.”

The pieces have suitably wistful titles: Waves, Snowfall, Space, Ascend & Evermore

There’s no denying that these pieces want a seat at a crowded table, but nor is there any escaping the point that Lord’s music ascends to a higher altitude than most. And significantly, his pieces are not simply evocative and relaxing to listen to but are no less engaging and rewarding to sit down and play.

I really think all five pieces here are something quite special. And the quality is consistent too: in Piano Meditations I equally enjoyed all five pieces. Lord proves that “less is more”, leaving us expectant for the next album!

The Publication

The music book itself has soft gloss card covers, with ivory-shade paper within. The inner front cover includes a photograph of Lord and his introduction to the collection, and facing this the title page includes the contents of this and images of his previous two publications.

The notation that follows is cleanly and spaciously presented, without unnecessary page turns in the process. In opener Waves, Lord shows that he favours key signature changes over excessive use of accidentals, the extra effort leading to a score that is notably easier to read than would have been produced with less effort.

Space is the shortest and easiest piece (I would suggest around Grade 3), while at four pages Ascend is the longest. Overall the pieces are at upper intermediate to early advanced level, around UK Grades 5-6.

That said, I feel that a more advanced player will produce a far more satisfying interpretation than the one who struggles to play the notes. And I should note that no fingering is included, nor pedalling (important though this is in performance): these are left to the player.

Closing Thoughts

Adrian Lord’s Piano Meditations is in short a superb collection in every sense, and a very easy recommendation to any more advanced player who enjoys playing music which is as absorbing as it is relaxing.

And all this for just £7.50. What are you waiting for? Hop over to the composer’s website here to purchase your copy today!


Andrew Eales - PIANODAO (November 2021)

Read the review here

“The music features unhurried tempi with a good deal of repetition and pianistic writing that helps the learner to assimilate the material rapidly” - Pianist Magazine (2021)

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PIANO MEDITATIONS Sheet Music Book - Adrian Lord

Piano Meditations is Adrian Lord’s third piano album; it is self-published but there are no quibbles about its presentation. A few years ago, he published a collection of 12 calming and atmospheric pieces in a book titled Sky Blue Piano, and the five pieces in the new album bear the same qualities. The music features unhurried tempi with a good deal of repetition and pianistic writing that helps the learner to assimilate the material rapidly. On first playing the pieces you may come across occasional puzzling harmonic changes, but listening to the music float by in the hands of the composer (his recordings are available on CD, Spotify, and Apple Music) erases any doubts of his craft. The shortest and easiest piece - Space - is just 31 bars long, and is accessible to pianists around Grade 4, whilst the longest piece, Ascend, is four pages long and comfortably be tackled by Grade 6 pianists.

Michael McMillan - PIANIST MAGAZINE (Issue 121 August - September 2021)

“I certainly felt lighter, calmer and totally relaxed after the concert.  His music was even better live - make sure you don't miss him!" - Buxton Fringe 2021

I'd loved Adrian Lord's on line Fringe entry last year so I had high expectations of his Saturday concert. I was not disappointed as his music was even better live.

Like many of our performers this year Adrian spoke about his lack of practice before a live audience and his joy at being back in front of an auditorium of real people. Judging by the reactions the audience were equally happy to hear and see him.

During the pandemic Adrian had set up a Facebook page and performed on line. He was inspired by the positive feedback he received to his concerts to write 'Piano Meditations', a set of pieces to bring a sense of calm to the listener. With evocative names such as Waves, Snowfall, Ascend and Evermore, I certainly felt lighter, calmer and totally relaxed after the concert.

As well as exerts from 'Meditations' Adrian also played four pieces from his debut album 'Journey - Twelve Romances for Piano' I admit I was moved at his lovely dedication of 'The Wedding' to his wife but more so for 'A Time to Remember' dedicated to the woman who set him on his journey as a pianist and composer at age six - his Mum. But my favourite from this selection has to have been 'Ripples' I closed my eyes and saw water running gently over rocks, falling through the leaves on trees and gently lapping waves.

The final set of music came from his second album ' Sky Blue Piano' which was the album I had loved last year and it was even better listening to it live. The sound that Adrian's fingers brought from the piano keys filled the Church lifting the audience and transporting us just for a little while to the beautiful landscapes of Scotland and the Lake District, the settings for much of Adrian's inspiration.

Regretfully this was his only performance at this year's Fringe, hopefully he will return next year and if he does make sure you don't miss him!

Carole Garner

Read their concert review here

"I highly recommend listening to this album if you enjoy soothing instrumental music” (Piano Meditations) - Jem Girl At The Piano (April 2021)

I recently shared a press release from piano composer Adrian Lord, who champions the idea that music is good for the brain. As a pianist and music lover myself, it is something that I have always believed in. I am now delighted to share my review of Adrian’s latest album Piano Meditations and the accompanying music book.

Piano Meditations is Adrian’s 5 track album of soothing piano music that is ideal for meditation and general relaxation. Each track has its own flow and identity and a couple of them, end in almost a cliffhanger style to keep you listening.

The track listing:

1) Waves
2) Snowfall
3) Space
4) Ascend
5) Evermore

Upon my first listen, I could tell that Adrian’s piano playing is exceptional and you can tell he is a thorough professional. The piano is such a versatile instrument and it is no surprise to see it being used as a key instrument in the form of relaxing and calming music. Piano Meditations is Adrian’s third album (Sky Blue Piano and Journey – Twelve Romances for Piano, being the first two). I have personally enjoyed listening to each track and I am looking forward to learning to play them thanks to the accompanying sheet music book.

Looking at the individual tracks, I love the flow, variations and pace of Waves. Snowfall is extremely soothing and is quite dramatic in comparison to Waves. There is even more variety in Space and it sounds a lot lighter than Snowfall. Ascend resembles Waves and is equally calming. Evermore is definitely the perfect way to end the album as it has its own identity.

The music book is beautifully presented and very much reminds me of my graded exam books from ABRSM. The music is presented in a clear and concise style that is easy to follow with the necessary prompts (tempo, dynamics, style) all clearly mentioned. I think it is wonderful to have an accompanying sheet music book and I will be learning to play the songs in my own time.

I highly recommend listening to this album if you enjoy soothing instrumental music, and enjoy listening to a professional play the piano. You can stream the album on Spotify, YouTube and all of the usual places.

Read her review here

“His music is just sublime - you won’t be disappointed!” - Buxton Fringe 2020

The weather gremlins really had it in for pianist and composer Adrian today. A storm at his end and rain in Buxton disrupted the live broadcast.

Being a true professional, Adrian re-started his live concert after some technical adjustments and I'm so glad he did. His music is just sublime; I lay back and floated on Adrian's picks from his two CDs.

If pushed I would chose 'Northern Lights' as my favourite. It made me imagine a crisp, cold winters night - snow on the ground, watching the Aurora Borealis dance to Adrian's music or were his fingers dancing on the keys in time to the lights? I have no idea if this was Adrian's intention, I only know I loved it.

Adrian also treated us to a sneak preview from his CD due out next year, the track titled 'Castle Crag' was inspired by the beautiful Lake District.

If you missed Adrian or had technical difficulties, tune into his facebook page where the recording (thankfully perfect quality) is still available - you won't be disappointed!

Carole Garner

Read their concert review here

A “must watch” online piano performance - Pianist Magazine (June 2020)

Read their article here

“Easily accessible and pianistically written, keeping the listener on their toes” - Pianist Magazine (2019)

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SKY BLUE PIANO Sheet Music Book - Adrian Lord

Having spent a decade in music retail, Adrian Lord now works in the musical trade as a pianist and composer. This collection has a remarkably professional presentation for what appears to be a self-published book - the design and typeface are indeed superior to some publishers. The music, ranging from Grade 5-7, is easily accessible and pianistically written. Harmonic progressions do not follow predictable paths, keeping the listener on their toes, and thoughtful changes of texture and registers prevent repeated material from sounding bland. I’d recommend sampling some of Lord’s pieces on his website, adrianlordpiano.com.

Michael McMillan - PIANIST MAGAZINE (Issue 110 October - November 2019)

“You need this music in your life as it is the perfect way to switch off and wind down.” - Buxton Fringe 2019

This was Adrian Lord’s first appearance at Buxton Fringe and I certainly hope it won’t be his last, this was 45 minutes of shear bliss.

Adrian is an award-winning composer pianist from Cheshire, however we can claim him as one of our own as he used to reside in Chapel-en-le-Frith before hopping the county border.

He spellbound his audience by performing a selection of original compositions from his 2016 album ‘Journey – Twelve Romances for Piano’ and his 2018 album ‘Blue Sky Piano’, both recorded on a Steinway in Crear, Western Scotland. Buxton Methodist Church certainly did it justice with its wonderful acoustics.

Introducing each piece from this very personal collection provided an insight into the inspiration, which the audience could then translate through the music itself.

It was everything compositions should be: uplifting dramatic; haunting; and thoroughly relaxing. We got swept away with ‘Sky Blue’, then onto ‘Northern Lights’ which was written for his daughter Hannah, who has clearly inherited the artistic streak as her artwork for the album cover was fantastic. ‘True North’ was dedicated to his wife Donna as they married on the beach close to where the song was recorded in Scotland. Then came ‘A Million Words’, a tribute to his late father who bought him the piano he still composes on today. ‘Misty Isle’ you can check our yourself on YouTube along with imagery from Crear. My personal favourites were ‘Homecoming’ and ‘The Wedding’ which were utterly beautiful and very moving. The performance was then concluded with ‘Time to Remember’ dedicated to his mother who thankfully started him on his journey with the piano.

You certainly do not need to be a piano buff to appreciate and enjoy this event. You need this music in your life as it is the perfect way to switch off and wind down.

Please, please, please come back!

Karen Wain-Pimlott

Read their concert review here

"These pieces will be propped up on my piano waiting to be played time and time again.” - Joan Kaye

Thank you to piano teacher Joan Kaye in allowing me to publish her review of my sheet music books:

“Afternoon Adrian. I just thought I’d give you some feedback on your books. Having sight-read through them and then returned to study in more depth I have some thoughts on them - all positive!

From a personal point of view - fabulous intricate melodies and rhythm patterns plus those delicious flat keys and harmonies. The pieces explored the upper and lower octaves of the piano which really showed off my beautiful instrument in all its glory.

Some pieces were a challenge from a sight reading point of view when double flats and sharps entered the mix causing me to check I was playing the correct chords! A general lack of clutter regarding dynamics leans itself to self expression. These pieces will be propped up on my piano waiting to be played time and time again.

From a teaching point of view - plenty of examples of double thirds which for weaker fingers can be a challenge, so great for strengthening them. Lovely block chords - I might need to adapt the number of notes in them for smaller hands though. Complex rhythms for the more advanced, along with those fluctuating keys to see them on their toes. Crossing hands - always enjoyed by pupils, and “hidden” melodies helping them to balance the touch while one hand murmurs in the background.

All in all - fabulous and so different. Love them. 😁​😁​“

“Unpretentious and from the heart” - Jonathan Woolf (Music Web International)

British pianist and composer Adrian Lord was born in Cheshire and had fortnightly lessons in piano at the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester before studying for a music degree at Colchester Institute’s School of Music. Composition lessons with Alan Bullard and Christopher Ball followed and he is now an active performer, as a look at his website quickly shows.

He has composed twelve Romances, which he recorded at the acoustically superior Crear House on a Steinway Model D. Each one bears an evocative title and these narratively descriptive pieces, unpretentious and from the heart, are both rewarding and entertaining. The opening Prelude is especially warmly textured, with Lord’s trademark repeated bass figures and crisp, limpid and lively treble playing for maximal contrast. From delicate tracery to richly chorded breadth, this is a life-affirming piece. Journey has an admixture, in places, of Michael Nyman’s writing, though elsewhere it cleaves to the folkloric. He can also mine elements that enshrine a pop sensibility, albeit with moments of tristesse, as in Ripples. His favourite D flat major serves him at several points in this recital, most notably perhaps in the mellow richness of Footsteps, its ruminative element coming – I’m sure coincidentally – quite close to Lilac Wine at one point.

The Wedding is the most cherishably beautiful of the lyrical pieces to be encountered on this album – it was written for his own wedding day – but there is also the domestic-cum-nature setting of Wildfire to demonstrate that Lord is also inspired by topography and place. Other pieces enshrine more compact sensibilities: Little Star, written for his daughter, is tender, whilst Kaleidoscope has the mighty force of organ-like hymnal solemnity. Time to Remember was written as an envoi for his mother and it flows not as an elegy but more as a celebration.

It ends a charming and often touching album. These little pieces are wholly unpretentious and all the nicer for it. The sheet music is available to buy too.

Jonathan Woolf

Read their album review here

“Highly enjoyable & atmospheric miniatures” - Nick Boston (Nick’s Classical Notes)

I recently reconnected with an old school friend, pianist Adrian Lord, discovering he has just released a recording of his own Twelve Romances for Piano, entitled Journey. As the name would suggest, this is a very personal set of solo piano pieces, some inspired by significant places, such as childhood holidays in the Peak District, and travels in Scotland. The album was recorded in the stunning setting of a studio at Crear in Western Scotland, overlooking the Paps of Jura. This is a highly enjoyable and atmospheric short set of miniatures, with a common thread of rhythmic momentum and interest over simple harmonic progressions. The result is often very effective and engaging. There are clear references to family roots in the Lancashire mills, with spinning rhythms in ‘Blaize’ and ‘Revolutions’, and a similar sense of perpetual motion in the hypnotic opening ‘Prelude’. The pieces are united by their use of repetition and arpeggiated patterns, yet variety is achieved in imaginative use of dynamics, such as in the fiery sections of ‘Wildfire’, and the moving concluding ‘Time to Remember’, written in memory of his recently deceased mother. Adrian performs this personal collection with conviction, and the quasi-improvisatory nature of his compositions makes for very engaging listen.

Read the album review here