2013 / Bill Whitfield
Review by Kathy Parsons
Solace is the second of six albums released in the past four years by pianist/composer/arranger Bill Whitfield. All fourteen of the pieces in this collection are solo piano and several of them have appeared on other albums by Whitfield as well. The pieces are a mix of original compositions, hymns, a pop song, and a classical arrangement. Whitfield states the intent of the album in the liner notes: “It is my sincere hope that my piano melodies will bring you to that place of solace…that each song played will restore you heart, your soul… to quiet moments of peace and joy along life’s journey.” Whitfield’s arrangements are confident and masterful without a lot of bravado, allowing the beauty of each melody to shine through without unnecessary embellishments.
Solace begins with “Christmas Solitude,” the title track of Whitfield’s debut recording. Reflective and poignant, it sets a soothing tone for the album. The gentle flow of “Miracles” soothes and uplifts - a favorite. “Song C” has the kind of strong melody that suggests that there might be lyrics that go with it, although none are needed. “Evening Tide” expresses the profound calm of the ocean just after the sun sets and the muted pastel colors that cover the water as the waves gently lap the shoreline. “This Is My Father’s World” and “Be Still My Soul” are beautiful arrangements of two classic hymns. “April’s Eyes” would be an elegant slow dance, bordering on sultry with strong emotional underpinnings. “Esther” is my favorite track on this album. Pensive and sincere, the tenderness it expresses sends it right to the heart. “Fur Elise Inspiration” is a delightful surprise. It begins with Beethoven’s best-known piano piece and takes off from there. The original themes weave in and out of the arrangement and should bring a smile to anyone who has ever played this iconic piece. “Fields of Gold” is one of Sting’s most beautiful ballads and Whitfield’s heartfelt interpretation is wonderful. Solace ends with another classic hymn, “O Sacred Head Now Wounded,” again beautifully arranged and expressed.
If you like solo piano without a lot of fancy fanfare and with a lot of heart, Bill Whitfield is an artist you need to check out! Solace is available from Amazon, iTunes, and CD Baby. Recommended!
August 29, 2016