The Piano Guys 2 – Portrait [TrackList follows] – Sony Masterworks 88883718142, 42:44 ****:
(Al van der Beek, Steven Sharp Nelson, Jon Schmidt)
The Piano Guys are made up of a small team of individuals who love to create music and video to both inspire and uplift. At the center are pianist Jon Schmidt and cellist Steven Sharp Nelson, both accomplished musicians, and filling out the team are videographers Paul Anderson and Tel Stewart and sound engineer Al van der Beek. They take well-known classic songs along with current hits and rework them for piano and cello. Some tunes will throw in a drum track and synths, but the piano or cello always remain the star.
The Piano Guys gained fame as a YouTube sensation where the full group of five posted a new video on a weekly basis. Their channel has over 1.8 million subscribers and over 257 million total video views, a truly incredible amount.
The album has quite a range of content so I found myself enjoying some songs more than others. The first track on the album, “Begin Again” is a mashup of the popular tune by Taylor Swift and Bach’s “Sheep May Safely Graze.” I also enjoyed their rendition of the theme from “Lord of the Rings,” which, as a die-hard film score buff, is quite impressive as I often can’t stand other renditions of popular themes.
Bruno Mars’ “Just the Way You Are” was an interesting take, but considering the fact I am not a big fan of Mars, it was not my cup of tea. The sonic quality was a mix as well, with some sounding a tad over processed, but for the most part a natural sound that let the piano and cello shine. Overall, The Piano Guys 2 is a fine album that has led me to check out their first album along with their popular YouTube channel. [The UK CD has several different tracks plus two extra, and iTunes has a 15th bonus track…Ed.]
- Begin Again
- Rockelbel’s Canon (Pachelbel Canon in D)
- Mission Impossible (featuring Lindsey Stirling)
- Lord of the Rings
- All of Me
- Just the Way You Are
- Nearer My God to Thee
- Charlie Brown Medley
- Me and My Cello (Happy Together)
- Twinkle Lullaby