In the world of new age music, a bright new talent emerges out of Germany, Christoph Berghorn, a pianist, synthesist, composer and, most stunningly, an arranger, as exemplified on his debut solo recording, Let Go.
Over the course of 22 original tunes on Let Go, Berghorn plays piano and synthesizer in flowing and mesmerizing arrangements featuring real musicians on cello, saxophone, trumpet and flugelhorn. Berghorn augments these instruments with the sounds of guitar, oboe, flute, harp, violin, viola, string sections, electric piano, synthesizer, drums, percussion and more.
Known in Germany for his musical arrangements on children’s albums, poetry recitations and his own pop-rock and jazz-fusion band recordings, Berghorn now strikes out on his own with a project that showcases his arranging skills. Let Go is a delightful new age album full of soft, gentle, dreamy, melodic compositions that feature exemplary interplay between instruments, especially piano and cello, piano and sax, and piano and oboe. The album was co-produced by Berghorn with Clemens Paskert, who has produced established new age acts Uwe Gronau and Luna Blanca as well as the Platinum-selling top German children’s artist Detlev Jocker (with Berghorn contributing arrangements to ten of Jocker’s albums).
“I titled the album Let Go,” explains Berghorn, “because I feel the music leads the listener into letting go, especially into relaxation. But I created the music to have emotional depth to help with other aspects of life. In today’s hurried, stressful society, sometimes we should be encouraged to let go of a relationship, a job, a project or even a feeling. Letting go of a negative situation can give us a sense of release, relief and excitement for future possibilities. I wanted my music to capture the emotion of sadness when you leave something behind or a time of your life comes to an end, but also the joy, dreams and anticipation for what lies ahead.”
With 22 tracks, the album contains a wide variety of sounds and styles from the upbeat new-age-pop of “Let Go” and “Field of Sunflowers” to the more melancholic “Cellody for Annika,” “Between Three Worlds” and “Melancholia Waltz.” There are short pieces including the pretty piano-oboe combination on “From The Heart” and synth-flute on “Looking Back.” Unusual sounds and full production populate the tunes “Egyptina” and “Ocean Dream.” Soaring saxophone appears on numerous pieces including the three-part “TresDiSax,” the mellow “Illusion” and “Piano Reflections 1” and “Piano Reflections 2.”
Several tunes are specially noteworthy. According to Berghorn, “‘Cellody for Annika’ was created by me and cellist Doortje Maillard to play at the funeral of a young woman Doortje knew. That sad background brought forth a pretty piece of music. ‘Once Upon a Time’ was originally titled ‘Once’ and has been released twice as a vocal track, once by Uwe Gronau and another time by my former band Run4C. ‘Between Three Worlds’ is intended to describe a funeral -- a mourning woman sitting in a church, the deceased partner wanting to make a connection one last time on his way to heaven, and the woman again who also wishes she could tell her husband how much she loved him and how she misses him.”
There are special guests on the album: Matthias Keidel on saxophones and chalumeau, Doortje Maillard on cello, Franz Hosing on trumpet/flugelhorn, Finn Keidel on percussion, and Clemens Paskert handling drum sequencing and adding finest percussion details.
Berghorn, a native and resident of Bocholt, Germany, came from a musical family -- his father the church organist for 30 years, his grandfather a violinist and music teacher, and his uncle (Alfred Berghorn) a church musician and famous organ improviser with compositions registered in the Vatican repertoire. Christoph took piano lessons when he was only five-years-old, but did not play much until he was 16 when he heard the music of Keith Jarrett, The Beatles, Jean Michel Jarre and Oscar Peterson (especially “Night Train”). “I tried to immitate what I heard, but with only minimal success.” A year later Berghorn began to listen to classical music, and “the big musical hammer hit me the next year at Christmas when my brother gave me a copy of Chopin’s The Four Piano Ballads played by Arthur Rubenstein. When I heard ‘Ballad in G-Minor’ I was swept away. It was really magic to me how this music hit my soul. I immediately started to take lessons again with the aim of trying to learn piano as fast as possible which meant practicing four to five hours a day. I enjoy many of the great classical composers, although my absolute favorite has always been Chopin. But I also like several impressionists such as Elgar, Debussy, Ravel and modern followers like Samuel Barber.”
Eventually Berghorn studied at the university level -- piano as his main instrument and oboe as his second -- with plans to become a music teacher at schools (although his career path led him to becoming a copywriter at an advertising agency instead). He also journeyed to Enschede in the Netherlands to continue his university studies for four years, this time with keyboards as his main instrument and music production an important part of the curriculum. He also got recording equipment and learned about sequencing, computers and synthesizers.
When he first went to college, he was invited to perform in a weekend wedding band playing party music. “I liked earning quite a bit of money in a few hours, but there was no musical fulfillment, so after three years I started putting together my own bands and composing tunes for them. I founded several jazzy-oriented fusion bands like Jazz Turn and Run4C, as well as several jazz, pop and soul music ensembles like King Size and Special Guest. These groups generally played both vocal numbers and instrumentals, and also occasionally recorded. Run4C released an album titled The Limit.”
At a jazz concert Berghorn met producer Clemens Paskert, who runs Capitol Sound Studios in Bocholt. Paskert began using Berghorn as an arranger on various projects, but also occasionally to compose, work on pre-production or perform on musical tracks being recorded at the studio. Berghorn not only did many arrangements for best-selling singer Detlev Jocker, but also composed and performed music for an album by poet and psychologist Petra Grunden-Boing designed to guide people through the pain and grief when someone close to them dies. Berghorn, who sometimes writes lyrics to go with his music, also has worked in the studio or in concert with singers including the late Peter Luer (lead singer in Run4C) and guitarist Nadja Kossinskaja. Berghorn has played keyboards in concerts of the vocal pop band Diffriends and the retro-music ensemble Bocholter Salonorchester. “I like being a musical companion more than a soloist. I like to lay down a smooth carpet for the rest of the music to dance on,” Berghorn says.
“I have always been very wide open to many types of music as long as it touches my soul -- classical, pop, rock, soul, jazz, new age, Latin, world, chillout, crossover, nostalgic music from the 1920s and 1930s, French chansons. There are some musicians who have influenced me, or that I highly appreciate, such as Lyle Mays and Pat Metheny, Claus Ogerman and Antonio Carlos Jobim, Mr. Thing & The Professional Human Beings, Nils Landgreen, Kings of Convenience, Silje Nergaard, Klaus Hoffmann, Jan Garbarek and more.”
Berghorn calls his album: “Music with depth -- from the soul, for the soul. It’s a kind of soundtrack from films waiting to be made. I love to make music full of warmth with fascinating sound textures and natural emotional flow. Music is my absolute passion and true love.”
More information on Christoph Berghorn is available at his website (christoph-berghorn dot com). His Let Go CD and digital download tracks from that recording are available at online sales sites such as CDbaby, Amazon, iTunes, eMusic and many others. The music also can be heard (and this artist can be followed) at many major streaming platforms such as Spotify, Pandora, Apple Music, Google Play and more.
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Randall Davis (CreatServ9@aol.com) & Ruthe Forbriger (cscRuthe@aol.com) 719-548-9872
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