All the Seasons of George Winston
1998 / Windham Hill
Review by Kathy Parsons
This compilation is a celebration of pianist George Winston’s 25 years of recording. The selections from Winston’s seven albums are good, but nearly all of the pieces have been edited - some by a few seconds, some by more than half. Winston shortened his pieces to make singles for radio air-play over the years, but it seems that these edited selections might also have been calculated to appeal to a more mainstream, pop-oriented audience. Gone are Winston’s improvisations, which were the most frequent in his earlier albums and a Winston trademark. “Colors/Dance” is one of Winston’s best-known pieces (and one of my favorites); it was originally 10:25 - this version is down to 3:14. “Longing/Love” was another landmark piece for Winston, and almost half of it is edited out. Why? If not for commercial reasons, why were some of Winston’s best pieces chopped, but “Variations on the Canon by Pachelbel” included? Isn’t everyone tired of that piece by now? I also question the inclusion of Bach’s “Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring” at the expense of Winston’s more original work. In concert, Winston alternates his better-known work with jazz and blues, so the inclusion of “Treat Street” and “Miles City Train” shows that aspect of his playing - important in a retrospective. There are also four “bonus tracks”: “The Cradle” is a lovely ballad, expanded from “Forest”; “Sandman” from “The Velveteen Rabbit” is presented for the first time without Meryl Streeps’ narration - a lovely lullaby; “Northern Plains” was inspired and influenced by fellow pianist/Montanan, Philip Aaberg - wide open spaces that both composers describe so well; and “Sleep Baby Mine”, another tender lullaby.
This is a really “nice”, easy-to-listen-to album, but I question it as a true representation of George Winston’s work over the past 25 years. Too much is missing.
December 21, 2008