2017 / CD Baby
Review by Kathy Parsons
Treasures is a two-disc “best of” collection selected from pianist/composer/arranger Bill Whitfield’s seven solo piano albums released between 2012 and 2016. (I have reviewed all but one of those albums - Reverance, released in 2015 - and those reviews can offer more specific information about individual tracks since there are too many to describe them individually in this review). Subtitled The Definitive Collection, Disc 1 contains twenty-five original piano solos and clocks in at 80 minutes. Disc 2 is a compilation of twenty-three cover tunes including hymns, Christmas music, pop songs, film themes, and arrangements of familiar classical pieces. It has a playing time of 78 minutes.
In what could be the music bargain of the year, all of this music can be downloaded on CD Baby for $9.99! Treasures is categorized as “easy listening,” which is actually pretty accurate since, overall, the music is very soothing and calming without a lot of mood changes or drama. Whitfield’s intention with his music is to provide “soothing music for a restless world” and “to bless as many people as possible with my music.” I think he has succeeded well with those goals!
Disc 1, the disc of original compositions, is my favorite of the two. With song titles like “Tenderness,” “Miracles,” “Serenity,” “First Glance,” “Kindness” and “Everlasting Hope,” it is obvious that the music is positive and uplifting. There are love songs, soothing music for relaxation, and more. All twenty-five pieces are smooth, melodic, and wrap the listener in a blanket of warm sounds sure to make any day a little better. Because the mood is fairly consistent throughout, this would be wonderful dinner music, music to study or read with, calming music for driving, and/or simply music to listen to while unwinding.
Disc 2 is a collection of cover tunes. Most are quite familiar, but there are a few that are not so well known. Eleven of the twenty-three tracks are hymns, including a few Christmas hymns. I really like most of these arrangements and the peaceful, thoughtful treatment they are given. The classical arrangements are “To A Wild Rose” by MacDowell, “Fur Elise” (Beethoven), Chopin’s “Prelude in E minor” (it is listed on the album as being in E major, but it’s in E minor), and “Andante Grazioso” (the theme from Mozart’s Sonata XVI). I’ve been a piano teacher for a very long time, and I have no problem with arrangements of classical music if there is a fresh interpretation or a different way of playing a piece, but these are all relatively easy pieces and, to my ears, the changes aren’t necessarily for the better. (That’s just my opinion and I know that most people are not as attuned to those pieces as I am.) My favorite tracks are “For the Beauty of the Earth,” “Fields of Gold,” “C’est la vie,” and “Christmas Time Is Here.” Like Disc 1, all of the pieces on are played with a slow, graceful style that lends itself well to dinner music, music for studying or relaxing, or some nice, quiet mood music.
Treasures is a collection that should provide something for just about everyone. Well, hip hop and rap fans might not like it so much, but if you like gentle, melodic solo piano, this is a great find. It is available from Amazon and iTunes.
July 24, 2018