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All One World
Shadetree Productions (2003)


Review by Bill Binkelman

Blending solo numbers with ensemble pieces (featuring guest accompanists on keyboards, percussion, bass, guitar, the string family, French horn, flute and harp), Anne Trenning's All One World has the simplicity, charm and unpretentiousness of the photos that are featured on the album: the artist on a simple wooden porch bench, an antique wood stove sitting next to an old Coca Cola machine, and a farmhouse basking in the golden glow of the setting sun. The music properly reflects the nostalgia, friendliness and down-to-earth images, filled with both tenderness and gentle melodies as well as spirited bursts of joy and good cheer. In addition, Trenning introduces Irish and traditional American rural folk elements into assorted pieces throughout the CD, such as the solo violin on "Ben's Song" which actually could be perceived as both Irish and country-flavored. Some solo piano songs are decidedly low-key affairs, not quite crossing over into somber territory but certainly of the reflective variety, such as "That the Night Come," and "Dusk Until Dawn." On other tunes, Trenning allows the music to abruptly shift moods, as she does on "Clarecastle" which opens with hushed synthesizer shadings and sedate minimal piano but spirals into a whirling bundle of Irish dance-hall festivity with flute, harp, and percussion joining in the fun. "Maggie Rose" is much the same, starting off as a romantic ballad, featuring expressive work on piano by Trenning before evolving into an uptempo number on which she is accompanied by hand drums, flute, and the entire assembled strings (violin, viola, and cello) as well as French horn. Interesting, though, that the song's melodic refrain stays the same after the transition, which means the piece's innate mystery is transported to a higher energy level.

When electronic keyboards are applied (by Alan Kaufman and Mark Stallings) they're done so with care and a keen ear for just the right amount of additional coloring. My only complaint would be I wish I heard more of them! However, Trenning is more than capable of holding my interest with her solo work or when accompanied by a single instrument, such as the violin on "How Fair My Love." Her softer playing shines on songs like "La Valse Des Jeune Filles" allowing the muted accompaniment to come through even at its low recorded volume level. By choosing "Lo How A Rose E'er Blooming" as the closing track, Trenning displays uncommon discretion - it's a superb choice to conclude the album.

Does the world need another instrumental piano recording? Well, if it's as solid and enjoyable (not to mention well-engineered and produced) as All One World, the answer is an unqualified "Yes." Like the farmhouse and barn on the back cover of the album, some things withstand trends, fads, and the comings and goings of fashion. Warm, sincere, and graceful music, full of passion for life and the softer emotions, is always welcome at the hearth of those who know a good thing when they hear it. All One World is a good thing, indeed!

P.S. Visit her website and check out the Gallery for some wonderful photos of rural scenes, including the ones on the CD!