Goldmund: The Malady of Elegance

The Malady of Elegance, the third full-length recording under the Goldmund name (Corduroy Road the first and Two Point Discrimination the second), finds Boston-based composer Keith Kenniff (aka Helios) elaborating upon the Goldmund style in subtle ways: multiple piano melodies weave in sparkling counterpoint during “Image-Autumn-Womb”; glistening tones softly resonate between pensive chords in “Finding it There” and “Threnody”; and a bow (presumably) drags across the piano's strings to intensify the mysterious mood in “Mound Builders.”

The fifty-six-minute collection puts the instantly-recognizable Goldmund sound on full display: the recording is so close-miced the instrument's mechanical dimension becomes a signature component; piano playing which is heard as a bright tinkle as well as crystalline and harp-like; arrangements so sparse they give the melodies of Kenniff's romantic folk ballads ample space to breathe; and the humility of an approach which emphasizes composition over technique (in “Now,” for instance, the material is so simple in design it could pass for an elementary conservatory study).

Though there are moments where the music dances light-heartedly (the pretty waltz “In a Notebook”), for the most part the mood is downcast: “The Winter of 1539-1540,” for example, must have been terribly bleak, given the somber waltz treatment Kenniff brings to the song; also brooding in spirit are “John Harrington,” (though there are many people with the name, the one Kenniff may have in mind could be the American Indian Wars soldier and Medal of Honour recipient) a rumination that gives the inner strings as much prominence as the piano keys, and the equally beautiful and dramatic “Apalachee.” In truth, The Malady of Elegance could easily be regarded as Corduroy Road Part Two but that's hardly a negative comment when the results are so lovely.

September 2008