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Album Review: Moment At Dawn
Charles David Denler
Cover image of the album Moment At Dawn by Charles David Denler
Moment At Dawn
Charles David Denler
2016 / Grumpy Monkey Music
37 minutes
Review by Kathy Parsons
Moment At Dawn is a live concert performance by pianist/composer Charles Denler with the eighty-piece Colorado Symphony Orchestra and the one hundred-voice Symphony Chorus. Recorded live in Denver in May 2013, this majestic album was recently awarded a Gold Medal by the Global Music Awards. The album was featured in a series of Colorado Tourism commercials that brought more than $1.8 billion to the state. Many of the pieces, all of which are relatively short at about three minutes or less, have been used in radio and TV commercials. Denler has almost 200 film and television scores to his credit and has performed more than a thousand concerts. This is his eighth album.

With a common theme running through many of the fourteen tracks, the music on Moment At Dawn varies from full orchestration to more intimate piano solos and small ensembles. In Denler’s words, “The music describes the Rocky Mountains and lush rolling meadows that surround our Colorado home. The focus of my writing was to create a sense of hope and peace.” To these ears, Denler has succeed magnificently! I also love the quotation that is inside the album jacket as well as on the back cover: “If you look for beauty, you will always find it.” What a wonderful reminder!

In addition to playing the piano, Denler added ambient synth textures to some of the pieces, making the project a fusion of new age and classical styles. The big, sweeping scope of the music makes it no surprise that Denler has composed for four National Geographic productions. In addition to all of these accomplishments (and many more), Denler was asked to compose a new theme for the Colorado Rockies Baseball Team that premiered live at Coors Field on opening day 2014. He has won two EMMYs to date as well as many other awards and nominations.

Moment At Dawn opens with the title track, a gorgeous piece that features the chorus as well as the orchestra shimmering with the vibrant colors and hope of a new day. “Vivet I” introduces the beautiful main theme as a duet for violin (Yumi Hwang Williams) and piano. “Saunter By Moonlight” is a soothing, hypnotic piano solo. Flutes and oboes suggest a spritely dance in the fully-orchestrated “A Walk In the White Forest.” “Dawn’s Glory” is a piano solo that suggests the hushed and muted colors of early morning, gradually becoming brighter and more vivid. “The Dance” is a favorite. Beginning as a quiet piano solo with string washes in the background, it evolves into a lively, light-hearted piece for piano and orchestra. “Mountain Sage” is a calming and very peaceful duet for violin and piano - another favorite. “Mountain Portraits,” another duet, suggests the silent grandeur of the Rockies. “Alium Diem” (Another Day) brings this inspiring album to a stirring and optimistic close. Bravo, Mr. Denler!

Moment At Dawn is a work of art that remains accessible to listeners at all levels of sophistication. It’s wonderful music for driving, working, studying, waking up to or to just close your eyes and get lost in! It is available from charlesdenler.com, Amazon, iTunes and CD Baby. Very highly recommended!
April 8, 2016