Pianist and composer David Lanz has returned to the music of his most popular release, Cristofori’s Dream, 25 years later. In 1988, the album became the first to chart at number one on Billboard’s then-new New Age albums chart. The title track was a tribute to Bartolomeo Cristofori di Francesco (1655-1731), inventor of the piano.
Lanz has re-recorded the entire album, six original compositions and a cover of Procol Harum’s “A Whiter Shade of Pale,” as a solo piano showcase and released it as Cristofori’s Dream…Re-Envisioned. In the liner notes, Lanz elaborates a little about the motivation behind remaking his landmark album. He points out that the title track was faithfully recreated (minus, of course, the original’s orchestration), but that the other pieces have been “opened up,” allowing for “improvisation and slight variations” from the older recordings.
In the absence of the comparatively full arrangements, Lanz has more space to fill with his piano playing on the new recordings. The calm, gently pulsing “Wings to Altair” trades the ethereal qualities of the original for a more grounded, earthier atmosphere. “Free Fall” may be the most drastically different, in fact, since the original was recorded with a synth rather than acoustic piano. While the earlier recording certainly continues to hold up a quarter century later, the new version is the very definition of simple elegance.
Another prime example of the different approach is the rerecording of “A White Shade of Pale.” On the 1988 version, Lanz was accompanied by special guest Matthew Fisher, the organist on the Procol Harum original. His playing lent an authentic “period” element to Lanz’s overall more contemporary sound. On Re-Envisioned, there is no such direct link to the past. That’s not to say it’s better or worse, only that the atmosphere is quite different.
There are two bonus tracks. First is a rare (though previously released) live version of the title track with full orchestration. The brief “Seoul Improvisation” is a from a 2010 live recording, intended (Lanz explains in the notes) as a musical “thank you” to his supportive Korean fan base. The 15-page booklet includes track-by-track notes written by Lanz, as well as a historical look at Bartolomeo Cristofori di Francesco. Cristofori’s Dream…Re-Envisioned is highly recommended for fans of Lanz’s melodic, meditative music.