The Grand Piano Spa
2021 / Time Art Records
Review by Kathy Parsons
One of instrumental music's highlights of 2021 will undoubtedly be the release of Darlene Koldenhoven's first solo piano album, The Grand Piano Spa. Even better news is that a second solo piano album will soon follow AND the sheet music for all of the music will be available! The nine original piano solos that make up The Grand Piano Spa prove beyond any doubt that Darlene and her piano create music that is at least as beautiful and meaningful as Darlene and a studio full of supporting artists. There isn't a lot of flash in this music - that would ruin the peaceful vibe and feelings of contentment - but the warmth and passion of her vocal music flow freely from her hands to the piano keys and into the hearts of her listeners.
Darlene Koldenhoven's 2017 vocal album, Color Me Home, won a staggering 20 awards including Zone Music Reporter's "Best Vocal Album" and received 35 nominations. Her 2019 Chromatones, an instrumental album that features some of the biggest names in New Age music, was named "Music of the Year" by COVR Awards plus other awards and nominations. Although her resume would fill pages, Darlene is possibly still best-known as the lead soprano singing “Aria” on Yanni’s 1993 tour and Live At the Acropolis concert video and PBS special. She received an MVP award from the GRAMMY organization for “Best Studio Singer” for singing on more than a thousand recordings that include movies, television shows, CDs, commercials, live shows, and charitable causes; she has been nominated for three other GRAMMYs. Darlene was also the tambourine-waving nun in both Sister Act films and worked off-camera as the production vocal coach, vocal contractor, and music director for those films. This is just a brief outline of Darlene's career so far, and she is showing no signs of slowing down!
The Grand Piano Spa begins with "Wisteria," a quiet piece whose floating runs down the piano keyboard suggest the gentle movement of flower petals drifting through the air on a warm spring breeze. "Into the Light" is more poignant and reflective - perhaps looking for answers. Very spare but also very evocative, it's a favorite. "Dephi's Dream" has an ambient, hypnotic quality that I find irresistible - I'm really looking forward to the sheet music for this one! "Spring Dance" expresses the soft pastel colors of renewal and rebirth that come after a long winter. Very graceful and spare, it seems to convey feelings of appreciation. "Soliloquy" is my favorite piece on the album. A repeated note accentuates the feelings of solitude and the stark reality of baring ones soul. The melody is dark and brutally honest - an amazing piece of music! "Clover Fields" brings us back to the warm breezes of springtime enchantment - blissful! The gentle rhythm and sweet melody of "Simple Life" remind me in places of "Color Me Home" - a lovely reminder of a great song! - bringing this wonderful album to a close.
The Grand Piano Spa is available from Amazon, Apple Music/iTunes and Darlene's website as well as all of the streaming sites. Don't miss it! The companion sheet music book is also available from Darlene's website.
March 30, 2021