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Album Review: Portraits In Season Live
Charles Denler
Cover image of the album Portraits In Season Live by Charles Denler
Portraits In Season Live
Charles Denler
2021 / Little River Music
29 minutes
Review by Kathy Parsons
Charles David Denler's Portraits In Season Live was recorded with the City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra. The music was first released in 2015 as a virtual (synth) suite and had its premier in November 2015 with a sold-out concert with Denler and the Boulder (Colorado) Philharmonic. As is true with all of Denler's music, the piano features prominently. Denler has won three EMMYs, scored close to 200 films and television programs, and has won more prominent awards than I can list here.

Portraits In Season Live was inspired by the composer's childhood home in New England. Quoting Denler from the liner notes: "I often find myself walking the forests and meadows throughout all of the glorious four seasons. My sojourns in the beauty and vastness of creation also carry me through the seasons of life itself: the ultimate traverse, I think, with a golden vista around every corner. This suite is a reflection from my journey. I've always felt that the cadence of our beautiful seasons is a gentle reminder that life is the most beautiful, and delicate, of all the gifts we've been given." The warmth and optimism of Denler's words flow throughout this beautiful album. The first seven tracks are the Suite for piano and orchestra; tracks 8-11 are "Seasonal Variations" for solo piano.

Portraits in Season Live begins with "Season's Overture," a relatively short piece that introduces some of the prominent themes from the movements that follow. "Return of Spring" begins with a peaceful piano solo that overflows with anticipation as strings and then the full orchestra are added, keeping the piano in the lead. "Woodland Flowers of June" begins with bird-like calls played on piccolo supported by light strings, oboe and flutes before becoming fully orchestrated. Images flow of colorful flowers nodding in gentle breezes and warm sunshine. "Mid Summer's Intermezzo" reflects on the lazy days of summer and the slower pace of life as the days grow longer and the weather warms. "Autumn's Last Leaf" foreshadows the coming of winter as the trees explode with their dramatic fall colors. The piano does a wonderful job of evoking images of the falling leaves. "A Winter's Memory" expresses a feeling of stillness and quiet. "Season's Finale" brings the Suite to a beautiful close, briefly summarizing the four seasons.

The solo piano Variations part of the album begins with "Spring Variation: Spring Meadows," a gently-flowing piece of musical bliss. "Summer Variation: The Water Garden" beautifully captures the effortless movement of a pond or pool and occasional droplets of water dancing on the surface. "Fall Variation: Leaf on the Wind" conveys images of the capricious nature of wind and the unpredictable path of a leaf caught in its path. "Winter Variation: Winter's Repose" is very open and still, and actually feels icy - a peaceful close to this excellent album!

Portraits In Season Live is available in vinyl or as a CD from Charles Denler's website. It is also available on Amazon, Apple/iTunes and Spotify. Highly recommended!
May 24, 2021