Lara Downes – Exiles Cafe

An album of piano miniatures from composers with little connection to one another is gracefully brought together from one of music’s most compelling young pianists in Lara Downes.

Ranging the gamut from Chopin to Bartok and bits of Rachmaninov to Stravinsky, the varied nature of Exiles Cafe is a recipe for recklessness under less inept fingers. But American pianist Downes backs up the hype behind her storied history dating back more than two decades and the creative and adventurous performance style that has made her a critical darling on the touring circuit.

Exiles Cafe is a measure of sorts of the testament a composition can have emotionally long after the test of time.  What makes the collection of pieces so remarkable is how varied each of the 21 selections are, yet Downes maintains a fluid tone across all of them to create a near seamless telling of longing.

Exiles Cafe is a remarkable interpretation showing how musical backgrounds can be so different, so diverse yet all leading to the same need to create.  Downes’ stylistic nature could easily have swayed such a record in a variety of wrong directions but her depth and maturity over the years keeps the record rooted in a unified vision to create a spirited journey that will be endearing to the ears.

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