Is it possible to quantify a creation of beauty? Like capturing a butterfly only to watch it die hitting the sides of its glass jar prison, it is best to never hold captive that which is meant to soar. Such is the case with South African pianist Liam Pitcher, who invites listeners to be set free via Session at The Baxter Theatre: the second release from the Cape Town-based talent.
“Improvisation on a Theme,” composed by Nobuo Uematsu, starts the short collection of tracks with a personal connection to Pitcher. As a young boy, Pitcher delved deep into the Final Fantasy video games. The journeys of Final Fantasy are intertwined with the journey of Liam Pitcher. Pitcher began piano studies ten years ago, and his path has led him to study with some the best worldwide. As a result, listeners can hear the color soar from each note. For Pitcher, that’s not a metaphor: Pitcher experiences the gift of synesthesia, creating a brilliant sonic rainbow each time his fingers rest on the ivory. Technical skill can be taught and drills can create perfect performance, but self awareness and authenticity are absolutely necessary to channel beauty in any art form. That spiritual connection has been achieved brilliantly in this piece.
His original compositions shine with technical prowess. Furthermore, a connection to Bartolomeo Cristofori and his pianoforte can be felt with clarity. Subtle, strong, and deliberate, this is an exercise in restraint from its tentative, homophonic entrance to its rich, powerful adieu. Pitcher shows the depth of his skill, crafting compositions so that we can all experience colors along with Pitcher. As this intimate musical experience closes with “Aeolian Dance,” listeners may forget, breathing in the resonance of each note, that this is a young talent just hitting his stride. Session at The Baxter Theatre by Liam Pitcher is sure to wash classical beauty over our souls. –Lisa Whealy