One morning last winter, composer and pianist Lisa Swerdlow woke before dawn. Without knowing why, experienced a sense of foreboding and found herself reflecting on her life and contemplating all that she hoped yet to accomplish. She climbed out of bed and headed to the barn to feed her horses, as was her habit, just as the sun began to break over the Sierra Nevada mountains to the east of her home. Storm clouds hovered over the horizon, resulting in a spectacular winter sunrise that served to calm her troubled thoughts.

The composition that grew out of that experience is “Dawn Contemplation,” a riveting piano solo spectacularly orchestrated by Doug Hammer. Ethereal and atmospheric, every note is filled with passion. One phrase flows into another with melancholic earnestness, building to a powerful climax before resolving gently. This music is powerful and stirring, evoking a range of emotions, and is a fitting soundtrack to the challenging times we find ourselves in as a result of Covid-19. A triumph for Lisa Swerdlow and Doug Hammer, I give it my highest recommendation.

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