Music Review: Cello & Piano Meditations, Music for Relaxation and Healing

Spirituality & Health Magazine
reviewed by John Malkin

Cello & Piano Meditations: Music for Relaxation and Healing
David Darling and Jacqueline Tschabold Bhuyan
Sounds True

Some years ago, pianist Jacqueline Tschabold Bhuyan suffered from severe shoulder pain and was unable to play piano with her right hand. She had a performance scheduled and wasn’t sure what to do. Cellist David Darling, a longtime friend and musical collaborator, told her the story of a pianist who had lost the use of his right hand for 30 years. This touched Bhuyan and also reminded her of the 1930 concerto that Ravel had written for the left hand only. Bhuyan was inspired to compose two left-hand pieces and performed those, and a third improvised piece, for the concert. Her resilience is perhaps indicative of musicians skilled at the art of improvisation; a way of playing that thrives on being present to whatever arises. 

Cello & Piano Meditations is the latest release from pianist Bhuyan and cellist Darling, who has collaborated with poet Coleman Barks. Each of the 13 songs was improvised, creating a dynamic quality that allowed “each note to suggest the next.” Bhuyan’s piano technique, called rubato, involves lingering on single, sustained notes with a rhythmic sense that slows down and speeds up like the ebb and flow of wind in trees or waves washing upon a beach. 

Cello & Piano Meditations is a lyrical and tender album that at times is reminiscent of the gentle music of Arvo Pärt. The influence of other classical composers is acknowledged in pieces like “Fantasie in C for Brahms” and “Mirage for Debussy.” The richness of Darling’s cello and the spaciousness of Bhuyan’s piano create a divine sliver of serenity on songs like “Monastic Chant” and “Duet with Silence.” This is a sweet musical journey for tuning in to the heart and mind. 

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