“The Open Door” is Michael Straugh’s third release of original piano
solos, and I’m happy to say that this album was recorded on a Petrof
grand piano rather than an electronic instrument. What a difference!
Without the too-bright metallic sound of the earlier instruments, it is
much easier to hear the music as Straugh intended - much warmer and
more expressive. It is interesting to note that in addition to
composing and playing all of the music, Straugh created the cover art
and wrote the poem in the liner notes that explains the album title.
Combining classical and contemporary elements with his own personal
vision, Straugh is carving out his own niche within the new age music
movement with music that is both strong and soothing.
“The Open Door” begins with “Hand in Hand,” a love song full of
contentment and hope. Gentle and lyrical, there is a sense of strength
and of moving forward. “Halo” is innocent and light. “Cascades II” is
quietly majestic - graceful yet commanding. “Winelight” is slightly
more upbeat, but is very easy-going, relaxed, and quite beautiful. The
melody for “Back Where You Belong” is strong enough to support lyrics,
and seems to be giving advice and telling a story as well as warmly
welcoming someone back. “Coming Home” is my favorite track. A sense of
urgency and anticipation propels the piece forward and seems to say “I
can’t wait to get there.” Lovely! The title track is a bit more
abstract, as is the poem that accompanies it. The poem is full of
paradox and contradiction, and the piece is somewhat darker and more
improvised than the other ten tracks, searching and looking for
answers. I like this one a lot, too. “Faerie” is a six-movement, twelve
minute fairy tale set to music. The titled movements are “Prelude: The
Dance of the Faerie,” “The Forbidden Kiss,” “The Court War and the
Potion,” and “The Dance of the Faerie;” there is also a “Prologue” and
an “Epilogue.” Full of color and drama, this is quite an interesting
“The Open Door” is by far Michael Straugh’s best CD to date. It is available from www.cdbaby.com. For more information about Michael Straugh and his music, visit his site at www.michaelstraugh.com.
by Kathy Parsons reprinted from Mainly