If you have not yet already heard, Shirley Ly is a talented classical music composer from London who has recently released her third album, ‘Paradise’. This album comprises of 10 sensational pieces composed for various instruments including solo violin, cello and piano, duets, and trios, and has been inspired by Shirley’s deep and captivating reflections of the ocean. One of Shirley’s favourite activities is diving, and no doubt her passion for diving is shown in her new album as pieces dexterously reflect the beauty and wonders of coral, marine ecosystems, and species.
We have listened to each of the pieces in ‘Paradise’ and provide our review below. Please go check her music out if you have not already!
Links to her music below:
The album begins with a mesmerising piece, ‘Corals’ Soul’ played by the cello and piano. The cello’s melody is so heavenly spanning a vast range of notes, and well-accompanied by flowing chords and arpeggios. We can feel her strong fascination with exquisite colours, movements, and patterns of coral. It is simply a beautiful piece, reminiscent of traditional classical composers but so different, in the sense that it delivers modernity. The piece also draws attention to the importance of coral in supporting marine ecosystems and species – a hot topic considering today’s environmental issues.
The next piece, ‘Joys of Spring’ brings joy to listeners! Eastern melodies seep through this piece, and we feel the positive spirits of Spring where various changes happen in and around the ocean. If you like Eastern-sounding pieces, then she has composed many in her previous albums such as ‘Falling Leaves’ and ‘Easterly Winds.’
In contrast to her previous albums, her new album draws emphasis on solo instruments. It is increasingly becoming unusual for instruments i.e., violin and cello to be played solo. We often see these instruments played in groups such as quartets and orchestras, so it is great that the pieces are composed for solo instruments. ‘Lament for the Ocean – Part 1’ and ‘Lament for the Ocean – Part 2’ for solo violin and cello respectively are profound compositions reflecting Shirley’s sadness and distress in relation to what the ocean is facing. Climate change, pollution, overfishing, mining, etc. continues to endanger vital marine ecosystems and species. This sounds cliché but the emotions expressed through the pieces are real and raw, and she has heightened these through recording a water fountain in the background to convey tears. The melodic lines have no tempo, reflecting unpredictability, and are sorrowful with many enraged and passionate passages.
‘Ocean Redemption’ is another solo piece for the piano, and in contrast to all her other compositions, sounds incredibly traditional. We hear strong classical and romantic music influences from Beethoven and Chopin – virtuosic passages, heavy and rich chords, slow and fast transitions. We love how she relates the piece to the ocean, which could vary widely in terms of being dark, stormy, and terrifying, to calm and serene.
Another new solo piece is called the ‘Red Sea,’ which in contrast to all her other compositions has a strong Middle Eastern identity. No doubt this is because the piece is inspired by Egypt’s extraordinary Red Sea. We love how well the phrases express the peacefulness and tranquillity of the Red Sea, and how the waves flowing in the background create a meditative environment.
The other pieces, ‘Intertidal,’ ‘Dance of Flying Fish, ‘Inquisitive Octopus’ and ‘Swimming Turtles’ are more contemporary pieces in comparison to some of the other pieces in the album. We particularly enjoyed the range of moods the pieces convey such as melancholy, liveliness and calmness!
Overall, it has been an absolute pleasure to listen and review Shirley Ly’s album, ‘Paradise’. We really admire how each one of her pieces share fascinating insights regarding the ocean, including marine ecosystems and particular species i.e., octopus, turtles, and flying fish! She has an incredible talent for conjuring heartfelt melodic lines accompanied by warm harmonies, which we can listen again and again to. We love how authentic she is, clearly composing from her heart. We look forward to hearing more music from her – please do follow the links above to support her.