Paz del Castillo sums up her musical career to date and also presents extensive fresh material on her latest solo piano album, Tres: Best of Paz del Castillo, which was inspired by many aspects of her life — music, nature, family, friends, loved ones, dogs and other animals, growing up, emotions, the beach and the ocean, rivers, historical visions, and places far and near.
The music of del Castillo, who lives in her home country of Spain, has a unique vitality and underlying thoughtfulness. One of the best at creating moods, del Castillo brings sensitivity, gentle passion and soulfulness to her playing. She composes the music for her recordings, and her writing demonstrates her considerable background, training and studies in the world of traditional classical music. Stylistically she writes memorable melodies and explores them with several variations on the theme, and uses an active left hand to present entwining counter-melodies and other motifs juxtaposed against the original melody line.
Del Castillo’s Tres: Best of Paz del Castillo — and her earlier recordings Moods for Piano, Eleven Drops and Now — are available in CD format and as digital downloads internationally through a variety of online shopping sites including Amazon, iTunes, CDbaby, eMusic and many others. For more information about Paz del Castillo, go to www.pazdelcastillo.com.
The Tres album contains three new, never-before-recorded compositions — “Erase una vez una doncella,” “Vals for the Good People” and “Lo que se de mi.” In addition, it contains two tunes (“Bolinas” and “Cuevas del Mar”) from her first album, Moods for Piano, which was primarily heard in Spain and parts of Europe so those pieces will sound new to most international listeners. The other eight compositions are some of the best, fan-favorite material from the internationally-acclaimed albums Eleven Drops and Now, the first of her recordings to receive extensive marketing and promotion around the world. Eleven Drops went Top 10 and Now was Top 5 on the prestigious international Zone Music Reporter Top 100 Chart for new age and neo-classical music, and both also made the ZMR list of the 100 Best Recordings for their chart years (from annual groups of more than 2,300 albums).
According to del Castillo, the first new tune, “Erase una vez una doncella,” is “a work inspired by a medieval story about a maiden in a small village who becomes a warrior fighting against the injustices that were being committed against her people by thieves, invaders and feudal lords who charged unjust taxes. She leads her people to victory until tranquility is achieved. It is a story that I imagined and I could see myself with an armor and a sword.”
Also new is “Vals for the Good People” which del Catillo says “is a tribute to the goodness of the people around the world, a call for simplicity and clarity of the good feelings and the good instincts of humanity. Everyday there are some good people who help and love each other, and I believe in that spirit.” The final fresh piece is “Lo que se de mi,” a work with several sections that reveal the different parts of her life. “This is a very sincere piece that narrates the deepest feelings of my life, much of what I know about myself.”
The tune “Bolinas” is named after a small town north of San Francisco, California, where del Castillo recorded her first album with Suzanne Ciani producing. “It is a tribute to my stay there, a very small, beautiful place that looked out over the Pacific Ocean in its immensity.” A special place in Spain inspired “Cuevas del mar.” “It is my beloved beautiful beach, the place where I grew up smelling the sea and the salt air, hearing the sound of the waves hitting the rocks, and seeing its small inlet that envelops you when the tide rises, and its arches through which you can swim. The music is my mother, my first games, summer lovers, hidden kisses, parties, starry nights, and the always alive sea where I live.”
The first composition originally on the Eleven Drops album is “Latiendo,” which, she says, stands for “the beating of my heart, our life force, and also greeting a new day after a long, cold night.” “El Abrazo del Mar,” according to del Castillo, “is like giving a big, long hug to my mother, and relates that strong maternal feeling to the ocean where all life originally came from.” An improvisational piece about a calm river, “Improvisacion Sobre Las Aguas Tranquilas” is del Castillo’s tribute to a river where she played in her childhood, and now she remembers walking next to it, listening to its sounds, sitting on the grass and watching the calm water.
The tune “Sobre el Cabo de Mar” (from the Now recording) is another piece inspired by the ocean and the beach near where she lives in Spain. “To get to the ocean I walk through big meadows to these beautiful and stunning high-cliffs where the sea hits the rocks, and then down the cliffs to reach the sand. There is a small but beautiful cove called Cabo de Mar and from there you can see the beach. I love to sit at the top of the cliffs and breathe the sea air which my mother taught me to love. I also like to look off into the distance at the ocean’s seemingly infinite horizon. With this music it is like I am sitting there with the wind in my face, watching the beauty, enjoying this simple but great pleasure of life.”
“Unchain Me” has a very special meaning to del Castillo. “It is a message, a call to the infinite to release the chains on our minds, spirits or emotions. Sometimes you get caught in the chains of life and feel you cannot go on, that you can do nothing. The high notes I play are like a call to the world, to a better future.” The composition “Mother” is “a tribute to my mother, who taught me what life is. Her example always inspires me, protects me and guides me.” “Tom” is (was? ) a musical tribute to her dog. “A big sheepdog, crude and clumsy, but also very noble. We have been together since he was a puppy,( and although he is old now, he continues to play like when he was young which ) He always drawd a smile to my face. This music simulates the movement of his games and pranks.”
“Hymn” is a very slow and stately progression or march. “It is a hymn to life, to humanity and to having a respect for life. There is such barbarity around us, the idea is to stop and realize the importance of our lives which is the most sacred thing there is.”
Throughout Europe, del Castillo has won numerous prestigious awards, performed at important concert halls, and studied at top music schools. Although primarily a solo performer on piano, del Castillo occasionally plays as part of a duo, trio or chamber orchestra. With a violinist, del Castillo has performed classical concerts featuring music by Bach, Chaconne, Mozart, Beethoven, Kreisler, Granados and Prokofiev.
Del Castillo, who was born in Madrid and raised in Valladolid, started her music studies at the age of seven. “When I was a child I remember listening to all kinds of music — classical, Spanish, Sixties and Seventies pop music. But I also discovered film music, soundtracks of great movies, and I started to love John Williams, Nino Rota, John Barry, Ennio Morricone and others. Later I began listening to Suzanne Ciani, George Winston, David Arkenstone and David Lanz as well as Celtic music.” Del Castillo graduated from the Conservatory at Valladolid with a Music Professor (teaching) Degree specializing in piano. After graduation, she traveled to England to attend the Dartington International School of Music. She returned to Spain and graduated from the Conservatorio Superior de Musica Teresa Berganza – El Escorial in Madrid (high-level studies under professor Rosa M. Kucharski). At the National Youth Music Competition, del Castillo was a finalist her first year and the winner her second year as a composer and performer. Following a Masters Class with Argentinian professor and pianist Aquiles Delle-Vigne, she won a scholarship to study “technique and piano performance” with him at the Mozarteum Musik Akademmie in Salzburg, Austria, for a year. She also won the Composition Award at the International Music Exchange Piano Competition which included traveling to North Wales to perform original material at an International Music Festival.
Del Castillo, who has become one of the most important solo pianists in Spain, says, “My album Tres: Best of Paz del Castillo is a summary of my life, a self-portrait like brushstrokes on a white canvas which completes a painting that portrays Paz del Castillo.”