If you're a fan of classical music and you haven't heard of Val Galaktionov yet, get ready to become acquainted with an amazing talent. The new CD 'Eleven Seasons' by this Russian-born composer is an album that showcases his immense talent through his virtousic playing and the haunting beauty of his composing style. Notes ring true on each track from this album and listening to Val Galaktionov's intricate compositions, one gets the sense that this is how the piano is meant to be played. He once asked of himself 'Why do people listen to music?' It seems that on this latest release, he has answered that question himself. Standout tracks include 'The Jester,' 'Eleven Seasons,' 'My Heart, My Soul, My Mind,' and 'After Words' but the entire album is layered with gems from this talented artist, whose playing will only leave you wanting more. 'The Jester' is a tune that even a casual fan of classical music would find instantly reels them in with it's rollicking jazz-inflected riffs and deep bassy chord progressions. Val Galaktionov is also an accomplished organist and composes sacred music, the latest of which 'God, O Zion' was just published by JPMC Books. English Tenor Brian Rodford said of the new piece, 'I like the way the organ, quite majestic, gives way to unaccompianed choral, returning once again to lift the voices to jubilant harmony, juxtaposed against unison sections. Magnificent finale!' Val Galaktionov, 41, grew up in the former Soviet Union, where he began studying music at the tender age of six, and had started writing his own music by the time he was nine. It was in music college, where he became intrigued with free form music like jazz. During his college years, he began writing and performing in jazz bands throughout the country. After graduating in 1983, he spent two years at Cheliabinsk State Institution's jazz department studying conducting and piano.His love for jazz can still be heard in his compositions today. Following his years at Cheliabinsk, he moved on to the prestigious Ural State Conservatory, where he attained the equivalent of a Master's degree in composition. During that period, he also played keyboard for the orchestra at the State Theater of Comedy and orchestrated a musical for the Theater. By 1992, things were really coming into shape for Val Galaktionov as he was named best improvisational musician at a large international jazz festival and at a popular electronic music festival. Life was hard for him in the years after the fall of the Soviet Union, which ultimately cost him his job at the state-funded Theater. But there was a bright spot during those difficult times, as well. In 1994, he won a scholarship and an invitation to study in the U.S. at a competition run by the Berklee College of Music in Boston, Mass. There, he also met Berklee teacher and saxophonist Larry Monro, who later wrote a letter of recommendation for an immigration status change. Val Galaktionov now makes his home in Columbus, Ohio, where he is a church organist, and continues to make music that answers the question 'Why do people listen to music?'