There are some albums that go straight for the heart of the listener and stay there for a while. Remains of the Day is certainly such an album. Written for solo piano, this music is pure poetry, spoken from the heart with a genuine sense of purpose.
Vlada Mars, Serbian-Canadian composer and pianist based in Vancouver, has seven albums under her belt but this one definitely stands out. Although dedicated to all matriarchs of the world, Remains of the Day is an ode to one woman – Mars’ mother. Composed over the period of two years and paralleling the last few months of her mother’s life, her subsequent death and Vlada’s own grieving, this album is so personal that the listener can’t help but feel the emotions expressed as part of ourselves.
Mars presents a unique compositional voice. Genre crossing and embracing the minor keys, her music is haunting, nostalgic, intimate. There are no big statements here but rather everything is expressed in understated, meaningful gestures that have beauty in their core. Still, there is an unmistakable passion, especially in the juxtaposition of the driving rhythms underneath tender voices. Mars is a master of rubato phrases, which adds to her flair for sentimental melodies. Perhaps the meaning of Saudade, one of 11 compositions on the album, shows the nature of her music the best – a melancholy of longing for something or someone that is no longer here.
Note: this album is not available for streaming. One can purchase it from Vlada’s website as a CD or download.