Boomkat Product Review:
Sean McCann's Recital imprint issues the debut album from his older sister Molly, who uses Fanny Mendelssohn Hensel’s "Das Jahr" as the inspiration for a monthly set of no-frills solo piano recordings that subtly chart a complicated year.
Using a "creaky, slightly out-of-tune upright piano" and the microphone on her phone, Molly McCann recorded herself each month after learning and performing each piece from Hensel's 12-part piano cycle. Hensel composed the pieces in 1841 after a trip to Italy, and McCann brings them into the modern era by using the cycle to urge her to step outside of her comfort zone, as well as to suggest the illusory quality of time. As we all know, 2020 was a year where time lost its stability, accelerating rapidly or standing completely still without warning. So "Das Jahr 2020" works as a breathily subtle reference to a too-close period of upset we're still unpacking.
Musically, it's endearing stuff, and sometimes spellbinding. This isn't the sentimental solo piano bashing that's been de rigeur over the last decade or so, it's complicated and emotionally buttoned down. McCann's lo-fi recording process adds an intriguing layer to the experience; cellphone notes are part of our regular experience now so the sound is familiar and close.