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Album Review: St. Peter's Gate
Cover image of the album St. Peter's Gate by Bradfield
St. Peter's Gate
2004 / Apsis Music
64 minutes
Review by Kathy Parsons
St. Peter's Gate is another excellent conceptual album from Canadian pianist/composer, Bradfield. This time we are taken on a wondrous solo piano tour through the gates of Heaven, experiencing various emotions and stages of transition via the fourteen original compositions. Each of the pieces is a gem in itself, and the collection tells a story both aurally through the music and visually with the Renaissance-style artwork in the liner notes. I’m reminded a bit of the Moody Blues’ albums from the late 60’s and 70’s that carried themes and told stories, much as Bradfield does with his music. Also known for his work with vocalist Anael, Bradfield is a classically-trained pianist from a very early age who started blazing his own musical trails as a teenager. His classical roots are obvious in his music, but it is also fresh and contemporary, and occasionally includes a jazz touch. The music isn’t all about fleecy clouds and angels floating around playing harps - some of the middle tracks are quite dark. The early tracks are fairly light, but as the story unfolds, there is some turbulence that evolves into peace and serenity through salvation and renewal.

The CD opens with “Anticipation,” a piece that seems both accepting and questioning. “Preparation” is lively and a bit agitated while “Threshold” is a little darker and very melodic - it feels kind of like arriving at a new place and looking around in wonder mixed with fear of the unknown. “Transition” is full of grace, and could be telling of the soul’s transition after the death of the physical body. “Retrospection” is deeper and moodier; it is more abstract than most of the other pieces, but is very effective in conveying a mix of emotions.

“Awakening” and “Realization” continue the transition of the soul, and both are very beautiful, but then comes the dark “Judgment,” which is a little frightening. “Retribution” is also somber, as punishment is meted out, but “Sanctuary” is quietly serene - the soul at peace. “Salvation” is tranquil and reverent, with a subtle feeling of joy. But that isn’t the end - the closing track is “Reincarnation,” beginning the process all over again.

St. Peter's Gate is a fascinating and inspiring musical journey. The expressive and evocative piano solos are excellent whether or not you expect to visit the “pearly gates” at some point. The CD is currently available from bradfield.ca. Samples are also available on both sites.
November 23, 2004
More reviews of Bradfield albums
Cover image of the album Virtue by Bradfield