I first encountered the music of George Skaroulis when I was writing for the print version of Wind and Wire
. I found it a little odd that editor Bill Binkelman kept George’s albums to review when I handled most of the piano submissions. Hmmm. I knew there must be something special about this Skaroulis guy, so when George sent me his Second Nature
album in 2003, I was stunned by the beauty of his music and understood why Bill hadn’t sent me the earlier albums. If anything, Skaroulis’ music has deepened over the years and, if possible, become even more beautiful. Sanctuary 2
is the follow-up to his 2006 Sanctuary
and, like first album, is a gorgeous mix of originals and arrangements of cover tunes - fourteen tracks in all. Many of the pieces contain some orchestration in addition to piano/keyboard and several are strongly influenced by Skaroulis’ Greek heritage. I’m finding it a bit difficult to review this album because, rather than writing, I want to just sit here and soak up this soothing, uplifting and magical music - truly music for relaxing your mind and refreshing your spirit.
begins with “Love Is the Key,” a piece dedicated to Skaroulis’ “guardian angel.” Piano and strings sing with tenderness and love, creating a bittersweet poignance. “You’re Still Here” is a warm and amazingly gentle piano solo that is almost fragile in its delicacy. “Misirlou,” a traditional Greek melody, is dedicated to Skaroulis’ grandfather. Dark, haunting, and elegant, Skaroulis has arranged this piece with piano, strings, percussion, and traditional Greek instrumentation - love it! “Chrisoula” is a sweet tribute to Skaroulis’ mother, who he refers to as “The Greek Betty Crocker.” Piano and strings express heartfelt emotion better that words ever can. The white dove is the symbol of world peace, love and freedom, and “Paloma Blanca” is a beautiful piano solo named for those ideals. “The Windmills of Your Mind” has been a favorite song of mine for many years, and Skaroulis’ arrangement for piano and strings is perfect - soulful and freely flowing. “Concierto de Aranjuez” is a gorgeous arrangement of the piece by Joaquin Rodrigo. Fully orchestrated behind the beautiful piano, passion flows freely as the music warmly envelops the listener, creating a dreamy ambiance. Skaroulis’ arrangement of Sting’s “Fragile” is my favorite track. At 7 1/2 minutes, it’s so easy to get lost in the music. Strings and ethereal atmospheric sounds behind the piano, plus guitar and light percussion, are pure musical magic, and Skaroulis makes this song his own. “Skipping Stones” is a gentle piano solo that expresses the peaceful warmth of a spring day by the water. Piano playing like this makes it hard to believe that the piano is considered a percussion instrument! “Revelation” brings this excellent album to a close with a lovely orchestrated ambient piece that floats on a puffy white cloud of soothing sound.
I always consider a new release from George Skaroulis to be a musical event, and Sanctuary 2
does not disappoint! It is available from evzonemusic.com
, Amazon and iTunes. Very highly recommended!!