Exclusive: Benny Andersson to record solo piano album
In an interview with icethesite Benny announced that he has decided to mark his upcoming 70th birthday with the release of a solo piano album.
“I’ve actually been thinking about it for a while but haven’t had the time. Now I do and it kind of feels right,” Benny said. “I think it’s going to be fun!”
Although he has not chosen exactly which tracks to record yet, they will all be his own melodies and he says that he intends to include pieces from every phase of his musical career from 1965 through to 2016.
“Some pieces, such as Mountain Duet from CHESS, are really suitable as piano solos whereas others, Waterloo for example, just don’t work,” he said. “It will depend on what feels good in my hands when I play.”
Benny hopes to start work on the project next week, but as he wants to record the album on the piano that is currently in his office rather than the one in the studio, he needs to get it moved first.
“My office piano has electro-magnetic sensors which makes editing easier,” he explained. “I fear that I am getting rather particular, but I don’t want to hear myself playing sounds that are too perfect,” he said.
Benny doesn’t plan to feature any other musicians or an orchestra on the release, making it the solo recording that many people have hoped he would make for a long time.
The album will be released on vinyl as well as CD and digital file formats. In addition, a book of sheet music will also be made available.
“I like the idea that anyone who can play a little, young or old, talented musicians or otherwise, can take it home and give it a go themselves,” Benny told us.
Benny is not sure if he will get the album completed before his actual birthday on 16 December due to the pressure of other commitments.
“Probably not, but we’ll see,” he said. “It would be nice if I could, but Spring 2017 is more likely,” he concluded.
Occasionally, Benny has played around on the piano, just for fun, as part of being filmed for this site and below is an example of Benny’s wonderful playing on the ABBA song Happy New Year.
Edward Veldman said: Fantastic news, really looking forward to this release!
Marnix ten Brinke said: I hope he does When The Waves Roll Out To Sea.
Mike Pearce said: I think its a lovely idea. I love “When All is Said and Done” and play that a lot on the piano, its a piece that works really well. Benny has a beautiful gift, he’s such a busy guy and has so much music at his finger tips. We saw him with BAO in Skansen last July and am hoping we can make it to Norway in October. Seriously whatever he chooses to record it will be fantastic, and I will be in the que to get a copy. Beethoven is a hard act to follow but Benny you are right up there with my favourite composer.
Roger Malia said: Stripped back, the real complexity of Benny chord structures shine. He teases out the meIody time after time as he understands that there is no point to music in what ever genre unless there is pure melody. I love McCartney, Barrry Gibb, Jeff Lynne, but on his day can anyone come close??
Ivonne: love it
Bud Cheetham said: I too would love to hear a piano version of “When the Waves Roll Out to Sea”. That would make this release quite unique. And if I could be so bold to request “Stockholm at Night”. Two most beautiful melodies. I am so excited to hear what Benny selects. We had hoped for this years ago, it would be interesting to read all the comments that were posted to that topic when we first discussed the solo project. I wonder if Benny had seen the comments and suggestions? Ice?
Russell Ham said: Fantastic news! Been hoping for this for a long time. Possibly my favourite Abba song is Move On. I hope this one is there. Whatever his choices, it’ll be great to hear them played by their composer. Can’t wait. Cheers Benny.
Gary McCartney said:
THis is fabulous news. Interesting that Benny has been thinking of a solo album “for a while” – I’ve though it a super idea for 20 years!
Benny is an astonishingly talented pianist – you only need listen to the frist few bars of ‘The Winner Takes It All’ to get that. But there is so much of his music that could work as a piano solo, and the thought of an album together with folio of the arrangements is so exciting.
Benny’s judgment as a musician, arranger, song writer, producer – whatever, is always ‘on the ball’ and having listened to pretty much everything he has released I only feel he has ever made one mistake…
…and that is ‘When the waves roll out to sea’. Very very occasionally producers have an idea that a track or song needs ‘big production’. Huge orchestras or string sections, choirs, vocalists, layers and layers of sound, when sometimes what you have composed is an intrumental. A stunningly simple, raw, beautiful melody that needs nothing more than 1 musician. Benny.
Beethoven, for example, composed symphonies, concertos, music for various instruments, some hugely complex stuff, but his piano sonatas work best as piano solos. They offer an opportunity for a musican to express him or herself with the melody and arrangement as a basis.
My fingers are crossed that 25 years after it was composed that ‘When the waves roll out sea’ is arranged for this album. THe melody deserves it. It is so perfect that it needs nothing else – just Benny and his piano.
imatiger1 said: When the Waves Roll Out to Sea makes for good orchestration, but would also be ideal as piano solo, as with so many amazing songs. Move On also a great track, I do like the girls’ harmonies and Bjorn’s spoken lines too, but it would also work as a piano piece. Benny’s music and piano playing are so good, real with feeling, idiosyncratic with warmth depth and feeling. Much of Abba’s music would also be ideal on his album, altogether could be a double album really. One could even add vocals of Agnetha and Frida as acoustic versions to many songs too. Can see for this special project a real composer’s personal album shall be awesome. Must order as soon as its available.
Onno Conde Nieto said: Fantastic news. I would love to hear his great melodies in the purest form played by the master himself. The first songs that spring to mind are Wedding and I let the music speak. But I know whatever song he chooses, it will be marvelous!
John Arild Stubberud said: Wonderful news -and I’m convinced Benny himself is enjoying the recording sessions. Now, to choose to pick from his whole carreer is exciting to hear. As noted, not all compositions are suitable for this concept. We’ve heard Benny play some of his old material on piano at different occations: ‘Sunny Girl’, ‘Wedding’, ‘Ljuva Sextiotal’, as well as ‘Money Money Money’, ‘Thank You For The Music’ and the instrumental ‘Chess’, ‘Hemma’, ‘Vi Öppnar Alla Grindar” and more. Of his 1960’s material, I’m sure ‘isn’t It Easy To Say’ is tempting to pay a tribute to -but does it work?
One of his first wonderful tunes is ‘A Flower In My Garden’, and likewise ‘Sagan Om Lilla Sofi’ -classical melodies which in Bennys hands could sound like Music Box tunes (which I know he likes).
‘Ljuva Sextiotal’ was Benny and Björns first real hit together: it would be fun to hear this one with a gentle piano touch.
‘Jag Är Blott En Man’ or ‘I Am Just A Girl’ is a great classic trune, underestimated by many fans (it was a single hit in Japan, wasn’t it?) -Benny re-visited this song with BAO a few years ago as they performed the swedish version live (Tommy on lead). Anne Sofie von Otter also chose to record this song on her Benny Andersson tribute album many years ago. Benny could easily include this one.
‘En Visa Om Arton Svanor’, recorded by both Lena Andersson and Hootenanny Singers -and a huge success in Denmark with Dræsinebanden is almost forgotten, but a great melody and a very good song (piano cover versions already exsists). Why does not Helen request this song on the BAO playlist?
From the ABBA albums ‘Ring Ring’ and ‘Waterloo’ I’m not sure what would work, but ‘Gonna Sing You My Love Song’ for sure. From ‘ABBA’ it would be interesting if ‘SOS itself, with its iconic piano parts could be recorded for this release (with an extended middle part?).
”’Fernando’ has sort of lost out in the last years, not being included in ‘Mamma Mia!’ (I’ve come across a cover by Maria von Trapps grandchildren with Pink Martini (!) -surely to amuse Benny, as he is a fan of ‘Sound of Music’).
Could a piano only version work?
From ‘Arrival’ -perhaps Benny would like to have a go at ‘My Love My Life’, or could ‘Knowing Me Knowing You’ be decorated with piano?
From ‘The Album’, I’d wish Benny would go back to ‘One Man One Woman’ and re-visit that middle section solo piano part. The very same goes for ‘I Wonder’ -please, Mr Andersson -the piano parts are great -play them again! Build more onto them 🙂
‘Chiquitita’ for sure, and (perhaps) ‘The Winner Takes It All’ and ‘Our Last Summer’, ‘When All Is Said And Done’, ‘I Let The Music Speak’ and for sure ‘Cassandra’.
I’d wish for a interpretation of ‘Like An Angel Passing Through My Room’. Seriously, Benny.
Benny hints at ‘Mountain Duet’ (great), but I’d also consider ‘Chess’, ‘You And i’, ‘Glöm Mig Om Du Kan’, ‘Someone Else’s Story’ ‘Anthem’ and ‘I Know Him So Well’. ‘Pity The Child’?
‘Slowly’, ‘Have Mercy’, ‘When I Close My Eyes’.
Please ‘Efter Regnet’.
‘Älska Mig’ could be lovely. ‘Drömmarnas Golv’ is begging for it.
‘Where The Whales Have Ceased To Sing’. ‘When I Watch You In Your Sleep’. ‘The Film I’d Like To See’
‘Teater Krokodil’ is awesome and would be a fun piece. Likewise ‘Fru Vennermans Sång’
‘Duvamåla Hage’, ‘Min Lust Till Dig’, ‘Vi Öppnar Alla Grindar’, ‘Min Astrakan’, ‘Hemma’, ‘Ett Underverk’ (greatest duet ever).
‘Du Frälste Mig I Sista Stund’ could be fantastic in its greek style. Underrated!
”Allt Synd Når Man Är Naken’ (could be great piano), ‘Lätt Som En Sommarfjäril’ is beautiful. ‘Saknadens Rum’ ?
‘Bortom Sol Och Måne’, ‘Den Jag Ville Vara’ (Agnetha should have done the vocals as a bonus track!).
I fail to mention some fifty other great tracks. Please be gentle with me.
Tony Rogers said: I’m looking forward to Benny’s forthcoming recording that will surely become an instant bliss-fest for ABBA fans, and especially those of us who lo-o-o-o-ove the way Benny adds flourishes to whatever he plays. My mind is drooling already 😉 -lol! In summary: “Yay!”
In advance… Thank you Benny!
Ignacio Baztan said: Uhmm I guess John Arild above, has done a good run on the catalogue, together with the other commenters varying opinions amount to interesting feedback from us attentive listeners.
So please allow me to comment on the global “form” of the songs. Whatever is chosen, If we follow past releases, it would be predictable that those will come out as finished, rounded, well-trimmed songs, which will furthermore be translated into a music book.
No apparent problem in that, an alternative would be to consider this album as an important milestone; 2016 versions, Benny’s maturity take on the music… instead of that usual strive for the definitive version. Very importantly, this shift in approach could help release the pressure -we as listeners- might be building up into Benny’s craft, if such was not already mounted from decades of opinionated feedback.
This way, the door could be open for more relaxed recordings and perhaps for potential future releases of alternate takes, explorations, works in progress and variations into a boxed edition or similar. Please, I am not suggesting this expanded notion will again rebuild pressure to perfect that additional release, let such planning to the future.
Sure we all know he has always stated that from the long composing sessions only a few things are good… which doesn’t automatically mean that the rest is entirely disposable.
///Don’t know you fellow posters, but i love every bit available where Benny is shown rehearsing, going adrift in a melody line, a gradual stop… and then pivoting into another chord structure, sometimes pouring into yet other familiar melody, or wherever really.
My words of gratitude and a post for leaving open doors.
Michael Salkeld: This will be absolutely exquisite!!!
James Buckland said: Hoping I can learn from the master.
John Bennhardt: I would be a little disappointed if it were a short album or nothing rare or new was included. But regardless, I am thrilled.
Gary McCartney asks: Where is this album? Hope Mamma Mia! 2 doesn’t put it back.
Brain said: When will it be out?