is a stunning collection of original piano solos by Craig Urquhart. The grace and depth of emotion conveyed in Urquhart’s music is a reminder of how profound and colorful the piano can be in all its glory as a solo instrument. The music is accessible and easy to understand, but this is not the sort of music you would use for background music. This is music to be savored many times with full attention, and perhaps in a darkened room without distractions. With nature and environmental concerns as the primary sources of inspiration, most of the songs are minor-key and melancholy, but not without a sense of hope. There is a variety of playing styles and influences, from the light-hearted “Fruhling” (“Springtime” in German) to the tragic “The Whale’s Lament”; the collection even includes to two bluesy pieces. Classical influences as diverse as Bach, Chopin, and Satie can be heard, but Urquhart’s voice is uniquely his own. The pieces tend to be very spare and uncluttered, but are played with such openness and purity of emotion that each piece packs a wallop. Each song carries a somewhat different message, and yet the album holds together as a strong and powerful whole, creating an unusually satisfying experience from the first note to the last. I played the CD three times in a row because I just didn’t want the experience to end. This is a rare CD that won’t sit on my shelf once the review is written.
It is very difficult to point out a couple of exceptional pieces, as they are all incredible. “Poem” was composed for Urquhart’s ailing father, and is a reflection of the peace that came upon his family with the acceptance of passage. It is structured, but has the improvisational quality of a soliloquy or a private and intimate conversation. There is sadness, but also a sense of grace. “Old Trees” is Urquhart’s reaction to a world where ancient trees can be cut down for profit. The tale of the old trees is told from the trees’ point of view, and is a call for mankind to leave a more reverent legacy. The message is heartbreaking. “The Whale’s Lament” represents the singing voice of the whale as he or she makes a lonely journey through the ocean. I can’t imagine anyone hearing this piece and not stopping dead in their tracks to listen more closely. “Wind Dance” is a bit more upbeat and rhythmic, but is still pensive and darkly beautiful.
This is my first review of 2003, and what a great way to start the year! I wouldn’t be surprised if Evocation
was my favorite album for the year. It is available from amazon.com and craigurquhart.com
. I give it my highest recommendation.