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London, 2024

Russian Sweden-based composer Val Giamo has been focusing on composing in the neo-classical genre for many years now. She has released three albums, and multiple singles including a very successful single release with Deutsche Grammophon for the XII series entitled “Flying Above the Winds”. Giamo has also explored collaborative work between disciplines, and a highlight of the recent years is her work with New York based fashion designer Sareh Nouri, with whom she released “Yesterday Waltz” a soundtrack to her documentary Royal Collection. Her latest album Stay with Me for Thirty Minutes is a narrative pianistic journey in which she is occasionally joined by cellist Axel Vilborg.


Stay with Me for Thirty Minutes commences with “Let Us Find a Place” which slowly sets up the scene; one will find ambiguous musical decisions, as if Giamo was trying to find the correct setting for her work. Following this introduction, “An Abandoned House” confirms the setting is now found; through a very diatonic language and common musical devices Giamo provides us with a feeling of familiarity, inviting us to indeed stay with her. Surprising us,“Far Away from Home” turns the subject on its head through broken chords and disappearing melodies; there are much darker and sombre themes which evokes some of Giamo’s personal struggles. “We Are Two Rivers Joined” is illustrated by the cello of Vilborg being joined by the piano. “Cold Hand But a Warm Embrace” is based on bell-ringing notes inside a contrast of ranges, leaving the weeping cello to flow in between. “Words Are Gone As Waves” is also an interesting piece in that the melody is hidden in the lower register. After that, “Look At Me” is slightly impressionistic and carries many dissonances and uncomfortable intervals; which makes one ponder the intention and correlation between the title, and the music. “Against the Silence” is again somehow impressionistic — at least in the harmonic choices. On a similar level, “I Remember to Forget” has an improvisatory feel and “A Picture of You” builds portraits through ascending and descending melodic brushes. Many of the pieces carry a feeling of unsettlement and often a duality of emotions. The closing piece of the project, “Three Minutes Left” once again extends this somber tone, portraying a sense of discomfort with the idea of staying, or perhaps leaving. 


Stay with Me for Thirty Minutes is primarily a project centred around the piano, and whenever the cello comes in, it is to support the ideas and bring an additional sound quality as well as emotional substance. Emotion is in fact, really at the forefront of Giamo’s creativity, and one cannot stay indifferent to the subjects she approaches, as well as how she approaches them. In this project, there is a lot of wordless communication; through the pieces themselves, and their titles. The album is a personal statement and an invitation into Giamo’s intimacy. Directness of the emotions and intentions; there is no hiding… When it comes to Giamo as an artist, if there is proficiency both in the composition and the performance, there never seems to be an attempt at displaying any skills; it is all about the intention to use the piano as a translator to her emotions. In fact, Giamo asks the listener to listen and hear her — not only in the title of the album, but in many of the pieces. Stay with Me for Thirty Minutes is from its beginning to its end, an invitation to participate in the experience.

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