Landing a deal with Sweden's marvellous 1631 Recordings label is a big step for any new classical music artist. To do so for your debut suggests you have something substantive to offer early on. It's an accomplishment in and of itself.
In the case of Glasgow pianist Richard Luke, the faith shown by 1631 is well-founded. Voz features Luke, along with violinist Amira Bedrush-McDonald, presenting eight original co-written compositions.
This is the kind of rainy day, picturesque album that every new classical collection should include. The performances are flawless and about as difficult to take in as a cool glass of water.
The disc opens, somewhat incongruously, with "Goodbyes." If Voz is meant to be a breakup album — and it certainly works on that level — it's one of that subgenre's more sophisticated efforts. (Perhaps it's meant for second-marriage breakups.)
That's followed by "Washing Day," which is nowhere near as mundane as its title. McDonald's playing is sunny and poignant. Peaceful too.
There are moments that will feel overly sentimental to some. "Beachcombing" comes at you in slightly syrupy waves; it's an understandable choice as the album's first single. That said, it's not the duo's best.
More often, the album is uncommonly mature, especially for a debut. "Swimming in a Lake" is a small masterpiece. "Bookmarks" and "Clara" are equally impressive. (1631 Recordings)