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Karen Salicath Jamali - 'Angel Admael'

Reviewed by Vai Thomas

Over time, the quest for the divine has always inspired people to perform, as well as create, wondrous feats that occupy a significant portion of our history books. And as in life, so it is in the arts – never least of all, music. And over the centuries, most music inspired by stories of the divine has auditorily ranged from the bombastically epic, right to the intimately calm. And nearly all of it leaves a mark upon its listener – often long lasting enough to influence various – and major - real-world decisions. But, apart from the Good Book and the stories it inspires, what are the various technical factors at play that make spiritually-moving music so mesmerizingly inspirational so as to transport the listener to an altogether different realm – as accomplished over the centuries by the likes of Bach, Chopin, Barber and right down to the present day? One may very well be able to achieve more than a few precise answers to that question, thanks to multi-award winning composer-pianist and artist Karen Salicath Jamali’s newest piano composition, titled ‘Angel Admael’.

Written in the key of G Major, Angel Admael is that wonderful piece of classical music that accomplishes aplenty in the technical specifics, while simultaneously retaining an aura of humility and peace – from start to finish. Inspired by the story of, and therefore named for, Archangel Admael (thought to be the Angel of Creation), the piano piece, right from the first note struck, is a prayer in every sense. A prayer for serenity and peace. And these two all-important traits are sonically depicted by beautifully written phrasings and themes. The theme makes itself immediately apparent in the first few seconds, with the left hand performing Chopin-like phrasings and ostinati, often squeezing in the odd meter at the proper juncture, which works in all the right ways. What stands out, however, is the fact that the left hand navigates the entirety of the piece using just two chords, and yet does it so profoundly that not for a moment does it feel inadequate or monotonous. The variations in emoting via the dynamics and tempo (the rubatos in particular play a key role in giving this piece a voice that reaches out), and the mixing of the piano sound. And the theme’s writing must be rightly commended not only for its simultaneous simplicity and dexterity, but also for its immense attention-retaining capacity it possesses on account of the former. However, it’s not just the theme.

The modulation from the middle octaves onto the higher octaves are so daftly and expertly dealt with, that they signify the shift from one realm to another, as inspired by what the Good Book says. Another creative touch to this ‘part hymn, part Nocturne’ is the near-absence of minor-form elements, which in itself is most unusual in spiritual music. However, it not only works in a well-justified manner, but also serves as an illustration to the traits of the Archangel Admael, said to watch and care over every inhabitant of the world.

Quasi-improvisatory, and yet each note struck with deliberate precision, Jamali has woven an intricately emotive performance that is entirely devoid of malice, that transports the listener to an other-worldly realm, aided in part by the well mixed reverbs applied to the piano sounds. At a duration of two minutes and twenty seconds, Angel Admael is a prayer that has the capacity to draw back the listener multiple times. Superbly written and performed, Jamali’s Angel Admael is a profound example for students, contemporary new-age writers, and performers on how to write and perform enchantingly powerful music that strikes a sheerly brilliant balance between sticking to the basics and injecting creativity. To learn more about Karen Salicath Jamali's music and art, please visit her official website. Her music can also be found on Spotify


#KarenSalicathJamali #AngelAdmael

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