The Turning Of The Year
2020 / QDV
Review by Michael Debbage
Over the decades, David Arkenstone has presented his listening audience with many twists and turns as far as musical styles are concerned. From electronic to symphonic and everything in between, David Arkenstone's trademark is his majestic bold musical strokes on his canopy of compositions. This time around Arkenstone’s bold move was to present something delicate yet at the same time exhilarating on The Turning Of The Year. Needless to say his latest musical creation will have many ears turning.
David Arkenstone’s latest stunning album features The California String Quartet, labeled here as Project:CSQ, though oddly there are 5 players featured. As they are an essential part of the success of this recording, the musicians are Luanne Homzy on violin, Hana Kim on violin, Jonah Sirota on viola, Evgeny Tonkha on cello and Ross Gasworth on cello. Of course there is David Arkenstone, but shy some sound textures it is just David and his piano. And to hear him in this stripped down form creates for a stunning stylistic sound.
While the album is even more organic than the superb Sketches From An American Journey, the comparisons end there. Though there have been glimpses here and there of this type presentation, this is a totally different avenue for Arkenstone and it utterly suits him. With over an hour of music, there is not a single let down with Arkenstone sounding utterly in his element. Nor does he hesitate taking a back seat allowing the strings to be prominent and up front in the music. After the dramatic slow burn build up of the opener “Riding On Wings Of Mercy”, you realize very quickly that you are in for huge musical treat.
Inspired and focused on the Autumn season and the changes it brings to mother earth, Arkenstone does not hesitate to include both upbeat and reflective moments. On the latter, this is best represented by the reflective yet riveting composition “The Dying Of The Light” with the violins ever so prominent. Fans of Secret Garden would find this particular song delightful. Speaking of being reflective, David goes it alone on “Beyond The Intimate” with a simple laid back melody and probably some of the richest sounding piano work heard from Arkenstone in a while. Staying largely in the lower register of the piano creates for an understated yet sublime moment. Once again, Arkenstone and his piano go it alone on the beautiful “The Persistent Memory” followed by the moody “Winter Is Coming”, the latter with Project:CSQ.
As for the other side of the musical coin, check out the playful plucking and rhythmic strings on the wings of the “Butterflies”. Like the dramatic slow burn builder of the opening track, “Flutterings From The Autumn Trees” fully compliments its earlier predecessor. Meanwhile, “Skyward” has wonderful reflective and metrical contrast resulting in a most compelling listen. Though in complete contrast, Arkenstone winds the album down with the stark sound textures on the slow and somber “I Reached Out My Hands And Touched Eternity”. Then we conclude with “The Last Rays Of The Golden Afternoon”, knowing that our Autumn season is closing out in preparation for Winter to arrive.
For those of you that think that you have heard every plausible presentation from this legendary artist, well think again. Despite this courageous bold musical statement, David Arkenstone appears utterly at ease in this neo-classical surrounding. His newest musical statement only adds to his legendary status. Needless to say be ready for The Turning Of The Year to turn many ears both with Arkenstone’s established fans and clearly pique the interest of new ones. Undoubtedly, you can add this latest creation to Arkenstone’s already crowded top shelf material of albums. Yes it is that great!!!
April 17, 2021
with Wouter Kellerman