2019 / Heart Earth Music
Review by Kathy Parsons
I have had the pleasure of reviewing all ten of pianist/composer Craig Urquhart’s previous albums, from his 1990 debut, Songs Without Words, to his 2016 Calm Seas. He recently released #11, Affirmation, and I am genuinely thrilled that the deep emotion, poetry, and beauty of Urquhart’s music still sings through every note. Now living in Germany, Urquhart continues to work on behalf of Leonard Bernstein’s legacy as a Senior Consultant to the Leonard Bernstein Office in New York. He held the position of Bernstein’s assistant for several years before the maestro passed away in 1990.
Craig Urquhart’s music is usually categorized as “new age,” but he is a contemporary artist whose music really doesn’t fit into any genre - it is uniquely his own style. He has composed film music, contributed to a secular requiem and written many art songs set to the lyrical work of great poets. He has performed in concert all over the world, touching audiences with his music inspired by nature, human emotions, and the natural rhythms of the universe as well as his own experiences of love, loss and remembrance. I can’t imagine anyone NOT being moved by the expressive grace and openness of Urquhart’s music.
Affirmation begins with the title track, a lovely piece that overflows with warmth and gentleness. Like much of Urquhart’s music, the piece sounds deceptively simple, but it is his velvety touch and heartfelt expression that really tell the story. “Friendship” has a blissful peacefulness that can be felt when we are with those who really “get” us and love us anyway! “Autumn Leaves” has a dreamy, bittersweet feeling that comes with the changing season and the beauty of fall. “Unity” expresses strength, compassion and understanding in an almost hymn-like style - very moving! “Passion” conveys a different kind of strength with pure honesty and heartfelt emotion. “Golden Fields” makes it very easy to picture tall grasses moving gracefully in a gentle breeze - I love this one! I assume that Urquhart composed "In Loving Arms," “Wedding Blessing” and “Wedding Song” for his own wedding last year as these pieces overflow with love and tenderness. The mournful “Farewell” says so much with so few notes, coming directly from the heart - an incredible expression of loss and one of my favorite Urquhart pieces ever. “Remembering Lenny” is a tribute to Leonard Bernstein, Urquhart’s dear friend and mentor for many years - a salute to friendship and appreciation. The closing track, “Celebration” uplifts the spirit with a shared joyful experience.
Longtime fans of Craig Urquhart’s music will love this new release! If you aren’t familiar with his music, Affirmation is a great place to start! Sure to be a favorite album of the year, Affirmation is available from Amazon, iTunes and CD Baby as well as various streaming sites.
August 1, 2019
with Michael Slattery