Award-winning Denmark-born composer & pianist Karen Salicath Jamali has a remarkable story. After suffering a severe head injury in 2012 and subsequently recovering in 2015, Karen took to playing the piano. Six years beyond her recovery, her newfound love of piano performance has resulted in seven albums, over two thousand five hundred compositions, seven Carnegie Hall performances, and over one million listeners. And it is more than justified, as her most recent album Hope of Angels makes perfectly clear. Karen’s music is stunning, nuanced, and expertly performed modern classical music that puts her at the top of her genre.
Hope of Angels opens with the track Angel Arcadia, and it is a melancholy and gentle start to the album. Karen’s phrasing is immaculate from the start, with expert pauses and emphasis on the right passages to convey an impressive amount of feeling from simply her piano playing alone. It’s a gentle dance between the more insistent alto passages and the delicate high soprano rephrasing of the melody.
We find that a touch of sorrow and gentleness are elements to be found in droves across this album. Angel Kamael and Angel Gabriel feel similar to the opening track, though not without their own unique qualities. Angel Kamael has a building, cascading energy that ebbs and flows with the intensity of the melody, while Angel Gabrel has a more pensive, thoughtful approach in its execution.
Angel Haniel gives us our first moment of brightness, though it feels careful in its approach to a major melody. It eases us gently into a warmer, more welcoming soundscape, Karen’s delicate and intentional performance creating a truly inviting atmosphere. But it is short-lived, as Angel of Tears appears shortly thereafter, bringing a fresh wave of somber melodies. This track in particular seems to embrace a pure, desolate kind of sadness, mixing intricate phrases with simple passages that give the composition plenty of room to breathe, and the listener plenty of room to reflect.
It’s difficult to pick a favorite track on such a well-composed album, but Angel Sandalphon is surely a stand-out moment. A simple intro, an unexpected chord to follow, giving way to pure, unadulterated emotion. It’s a moving piece, full of surprising moments, tension, and resolution. A high moment on an album that is almost nothing but high moments.
Fans of classical music would do well to learn the name Karen Salicath Jamali now, as she is well on her way to becoming a household name in this space. Her work on Hope of Angels is nothing short of breathtaking, from performance to composition. Even casual fans of this genre will be able to deeply appreciate the immense amount of talent that is present in this collection of tracks. Stream this stunning work of art for yourself below.
BELOW: Listen to Hope of Angels and connect with her website and social media platforms. Please support Karen Salicath Jamali by visiting her online, and playing, downloading, and/or purchasing her music, or attending a live show! And, as always, thank you for supporting real music!