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George M. Wallace
a fool in the forest, January 2013

Favorite Albums of 2012: #19

In addition to the title composition, the album collects Lang’s “Memory Pieces,” written over recent years in honor or contemplation of friends now gone. Among those pieces, in its original version for piano, is “Wed”…five minutes of inarticulable sad true beauty. © 2013 a fool in the forest

Daniel Coombs
Audiophile Audition, April 2012

This collection of some of Lang’s solo piano work is a wholly different side of his output and one that I found instantly attractive. This is intimate, beautiful and frequently ethereal music. The title work, This Was Written by Hand, is so-called because Lang, literally, went “old school” and wrote out the score with paper and pencil for the present performer, Andrew Zolinsky. Lang’s stated intent was to almost conduct an experiment to see if the labor intensive method would have a subconscious effect on the type of writing produced. Lang does not answer that question but the work is infused with a simple beauty and a fairly uncomplicated harmonic vocabulary and a forward motion created by gradual change as opposed to key-pounding pyrotechnics. The effect is wonderful, beautiful and mysterious all at the same time.

Lang wrote all the remaining short works in this collection as a set, entitled Memory Pieces and were written between 1992 and 1997. Lang explains that each piece is intended as a memorial of sorts to people in his life and people he has admired who have died.

Each piece has a slightly different tone and feel that – no doubt – evoke some of the personality or vibrancy (or introspective side?) of the persons whose lives and memories are being commemorated. Yet, each piece bears Lang’s characteristic attention to harmonic interest (but not convoluted at all) and the pulse that comes from either a rhythmic drive or from a persistent sense of floating forward.

I felt that it helped to know the reason for these pieces. They are individually, and collectively, beautiful as is. Knowing the deeply personal nature of the works makes it feel like the listener is sharing in the composer’s memories, thoughts and cherished friendships. This is a very fine collection, beautifully and sensitively played by Andrew Zolinksy. I have enjoyed David Lang’s music for some time. Now I feel I know another side of his art. One that sounds made by heart, if not entirely “by hand.” Beautiful! © 2012 Audiophile Audition Read complete review

Christian Carey, March 2012

Zolinsky brings a fluid grace and subtlety that abets the spontaneous, almost improvisatory, character of the material © 2012 Read complete review

Ira Byelick
American Record Guide, March 2012

David Lang’s This Was Written by Hand…is a tender…piece for solo piano…The addition of slight dissonance as the piece progresses is quite masterly and beautiful, as is the change in register from treble to tenor…Memory Pieces…is a group of eight short movements—contemplations “of illness and the deaths of those around you as you grow older, and the fading of memories”. Each piece is named after a person, and they differ widely in character. Andrew Zolinsky performs This Was Written by Hand beautifully… © 2012 American Record Guide Read complete review on American Record Guide online

Jayson Greene
Pitchfork, February 2012

…David Lang is something of a genial father figure of the indie-classical scene. This Was Written By Hand, his most recent recording, is a collection of short solo piano works played by the British pianist Andrew Zolinsky.

The album holds the same, sustained melancholy mood: thoughtful, searching, elegiac, minimalist…Lang's music mimics the intellectual sensation of thinking and writing about music as much as it does the act of listening to music itself. To immerse yourself in this music is to hear a mind's churn. It can be perversely soothing. © 2012 Pitchfork Read complete review

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