It is refreshing listening to the fourth album by pianist Dan Chadburn (Nocturnes) because besides several solo piano numbers, it also features other instruments (violin, viola, English horn and French horn) on the remaining tracks. And here is the catch: those instruments are played by REAL musicians. In today’s world of new age and neo-classical music (not to mention pop, rock, etc.), most of time other additional instruments are created via synthesizer. So to hear real classical musicians on these instruments is a real treat. I have always been a sucker for the sounds of English horn and French horn -- two the most mellow, moody, pure-toned and beautiful instruments in an orchestra. This album could just as easily incorporated similar instruments like cello and oboe which also set the same moods as the ones used.
Another interesting aspect is that Chadburn wrote all the tunes on piano and then decided to compose and write out the parts to be played by the other instruments. He created the arrangements either in his head or on a synthesizer, but, regardless, had the musicians (just like in classical music) play what he put on their score sheets. And he did not just give them all supporting roles to his piano. Instead he lets these other four instruments be mixed in the forefront playing melodies and counter-melodies. There is nice interplay not only between the piano and the other instruments, but between those four instruments themselves. It sounds like Chadburn could probably carve out a career as an arranger. He did take some film-scoring classes at UCLA and worked in the film and television industry awhile.
The album using the idea of night (thus the nocturnal album title) as a loose concept, and the music supposedly reflects everything from dreaming, looking at the stars, sleeping (there are two lullabies), praying and so on. In fact, the album brackets the night theme by starting with the tune “Twilight” and ending with the piece “Sunrise.”
This is superb new age music (or contemporary classical, if you will) that has a lot of warmth and depth. For more information, song samples or purchases, start at his website (danchadburn dot com).