Classical guitar meets Hawaiian Slack Key in music inspired by the beauty and serenity of the island of Maui.
"Russell Steinberg puts his magical classical twist in Slack key guitar tunings to Tropical Maui themes that connect us to "Wahi Pana" or a sense of place in his original songs about the island of Maui. His approach is as refreshing as the Paia sea spray from the ocean and clear as the view from Haleakala to the Central Plains of Kaupo and beyond!" George Kahumoku Jr., Grammy Award-winning Slack Key Guitarist
BLUE POOL Preludes for Solo Guitar Inspired by Hawaiian Slack Key Style and the Island of Maui by Russell Steinberg
Even first time listeners feel a special serenity and nostalgia in Hawaiian Slack Key guitar. With its European roots, simple harmony, and sheer beauty of sound (loosening the guitar's lower strings to give them "slack"), slack key is emotionally available to all of us, without knowledge or familiarity with its traditions. That openness I find to be the magical root of Hawaiian culture.
My "classicized" slack key pieces fuse the Hawaiian tradition's deep resonance, nostalgia, and undulating tonic-dominant harmonies (like ocean waves!) with classical Spanish guitar. As such, they are not traditional Hawaiian slack key pieces, yet the fusion is a natural one, since slack key originated from 19th century Mexican cowboys (vaqueros who brought their guitars and taught Hawaiian paniolo (cowboys, but derived from "Spanish"). The prelude titles reflect specific parts of Maui, each with its own unique spirit, but as a whole, they reflect my desire to recapture the special relaxed aloha so intrinsic and essential to Maui’s beauty.
Plumeria—the pervasive and delicately fragrant white, yellow, or red flowering trees found all over the island
Kaupo—the spectacular arid desert ranchland on the southern part of the island
Hana—“heaven on earth,” lush green lands in the southeast home to a thousand waterfalls
Makawao—the Upcountry hub that was the historic ranching community famous for its Hawaiian cowboys, and now a vibrant arts community
Kula—the forested mountains way Upcountry with gorgeous views looking across the central valley of the island. Paia—is the charming relaxed town that marks the beginning of the road to Hana Nahiku Beach—the very end of Nahiku road a few miles north of Hana that is the epitome of paradise Waihe’e Valley (Swinging Bridges)—two precarious narrow wooden plank bridges on a trail following a river in the Waihe'e Valley in the lush West Maui mountains. Silversword—the rare white cactus found only atop Mt. Haleakala Kihei—the beach town for the “common folk” south of the resorts that I find to be a treasure with a special aloha all its own Blue Pool—this most idyllic of Maui's waterfall pools (now off-limits to tourists) captures the deepest essence of Hawaii —and what I'm searching for with these guitar preludes
Some listener reviews: "So beautiful. The music brought me serenity when I needed it most." R. Wrubel "How beautiful, Russell! I’m such a fan of your music, and this one certainly delivered." J. Gondek "The music was beautiful, soulful, intricate and relaxing. [My friend] spoke of the notes you don't hear." A. Katz "So lovely! You brought the island to me today." G. Raumberger "Beautiful, could smell the sweet scent of the Plumeria as I listened." N. Green "Very very welcome moments of tranquility and beauty." M. Josephy Expressive writing and playing. Very personal. T. Cochran
BIO Russell Steinberg's classical guitar studies began with Dorothy Compinsky, continued with Ronald Purcell, and culminated in a master class with Andrés Segovia, who praised his original work and encouraged him to pursue his compositional path. Steinberg received a Ph.D. in Music from Harvard University, an M.M. from the New England Conservatory, and a B.A. from UCLA. His solo, chamber, and orchestra music have been performed worldwide. Recent works include "Cosmic Dust" (a tri-consortium commission with the New West Symphony, Bay Atlantic Symphony, and the Hopkins Symphony Orchestra), the song cycle "Canopy of Peace" (LA Jewish Symphony), and "String Quartet #2" premiered by the Lyris Quartet. Steinberg is Artistic Director for the Los Angeles Youth Orchestra and is a popular preconcert speaker for the Los Angeles Philharmonic. Other recordings include "Sacred Transitions: A Song Cycle Based On Meditations by Harold M. Schulweis," "Stories From My Favorite Planet: A Musical Tribute to Journalist Daniel Pearl" produced by the Daniel Pearl Foundation, "Flute Sonata" on Centaur Records recorded by Michelle Stanley, "Desert Stars" (solo music for piano and classical guitar), and "Fantasy for Flute and Piano" on the album Ascend featuring flutist Elizabeth Erenberg.