Private Music is a Los Angeles-based label that specializes in what is called, for want of a better name, New Age music. Loosely allied with minimalists like Philip Glass, the leaders of the younger generation of New Age artists include the Chinese-American composer and performer Lucia Hwong (Year of the Dragon, M. Butterfly) and Suzanne Ciani, a pianist who has developed into one of the genre’s most impressive solo performers.
Pianissimo is a series of solo pieces, each exhibiting the familiar New Age hallmarks of a simple, declarative melody and an unobtrusive consonant accompaniment. If it sounds like the stuff you could make up on your home piano, so be it. But New Age is harder to write than it sounds. ”Anthem,” the opening track, is a why-didn’t-I-think-of-that? tune that you’ll be humming for days afterward, as in ”Simple Song.” Ciani explores greater depths in ”Adagio,” ”Mozart,” and ”Berceuse.” You won’t get the complexity of late Beethoven here, but what you will get is strong, sturdy, attractive music that gives a good deal of pleasure. And what is wrong with that? B