In the airless confines of classical music, Leona Francombe has always sought to open a window. Despite an impressive pedigree that awarded her membership in this exclusive profession at an early age: debut at sixteen with the Pittsburgh Symphony, successful competitions, a Master's from Yale and years of solo and chamber concerts in Europe, where she resides, Leona has refused to be defined by these parameters.
For this pianist, music is not a way to gain access to fancy halls and influential people, or to seek empty fame through peddling a tired, ailing repertoire. It is rather a means to communicate and inspire. Period. On a gleaming Steinway before rapt hundreds. Or even better, on an old, broken-down upright for a single person in need. The true magic of music can happen at any moment, in any situation.
In the late 80's and early 90's, Leona, of English and Czech heritage, received grants from the European Cultural Foundation to unite musicians from Eastern and Western Europe in joint chamber ensembles. She went on to perform as a soloist, compose, teach privately and present seminars in schools and other venues.
Leona has collaborated on this recording with the Canadian photographer Roy Andersen, whose stunning photo of Mt. Rundle in Banff appears on the cover. They hope that the music will also convey a subtle environmental message: that is, that natural beauty resonates with an ancient wisdom (listen to Earthsong or Millennium Tree, for example) that we ignore or plunder at our peril.
Scandalously for all you techies, this disc is unedited and unmastered! That means that Leona sat down and played it all for you, without stopping, in her own studio, as if you were there on the couch just a few feet away. The result is an honest, intimate and captivating experience that you won't regret.
2. Cry of Wild Places
4. Millennium Tree
5. Wilderness Dances
8. Northern Fantasy
9. High Mountain Waltz