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Album Review: Valentine Hill
David Lanz
Cover image of the album Valentine Hill by David Lanz
Valentine Hill
David Lanz
2024 / Lanz Music
47 minutes
Review by Kathy Parsons
New music from David Lanz is always a big deal, but a new solo piano album is GREAT news! It's been four years since David released his Water Sign album, and although he has since then released several singles and an album in collaboration with his wife, Kristin Amarie, I have to admit that I still love his piano albums best. Kristin co-produced the album and is listed as co-composer on the tracks, but Valentine Hill is very much an album that David's longtime fans will recognize and fully appreciate. Unabashedly sentimental and full of grace, this album is a heartfelt addition to an already very impressive collection of albums that now span more than forty years!

I was at David's first concert in San Francisco and took my piano students and their families to his Bay Area concerts for many years. I taught his music regularly and at one point, I estimated that I probably played David's music almost as much as he did! I'm obviously one of his biggest fans, and I LOVE this album! The fourteen tracks include three pieces in honor of David's mother, three improvisations, and lots of expressive and soulful solo piano.

Valentine Hill begins with the title track, a piece that will likely become a David Lanz classic. It was inspired by a poem David wrote a few years ago that speaks to the ups and downs of a romantic relationship. The melody itself is bittersweet, but the livelier left hand gives the music a feeling of energy and of moving forward - a great start! "Winter Sonata" was the first single to be released from the album and has served as a very promising introduction! Quoting David in the liner notes: "The call of winter and the changing of the seasons is all wrapped up in this composition. Not meant to be a holiday song per se, but an effort to capture the essence of the wistful, introspective feelings brought on by this time of year." Sheet music is available for this beautiful piece, too. "Finding Heaven" is one of three pieces on the album dedicated to David's mother. "I can see her moving through the gates of heaven, light as a feather no longer carrying the weight of earthly life." Warm, graceful and overflowing with love, it's a heartfelt remembrance. "Passages and Portraits" was originally going to be the title track for the album, but instead it became something of a musical tribute to Beethoven, Lanz's musical hero. "The Bittersweet" was also released as a single ahead of the full album as was the sheet music for it - classic David Lanz! "A Valentine Moon" is a tender and very romantic piece perfect for any day (or night!) of the year. "Fantasia For Two Suns" is something of a tribute to "The Setting Of Two Suns" from David's 1990 Skyline Firedance album - probably still my favorite of all of his albums. If you are familiar with the piece, you'll recognize a couple of short passages "borrowed" from the original. "Evening Blessings" expresses feelings of longing with a gentle, soothing tone that makes it easier to let go of the stresses of the day and simply relax. The album closes with the improvisation titled "And Again More," something of a bonus track and the perfect ending to a truly great album.

Valentine Hill is available to download and stream from DavidLanz.com and Amazon. It is also available from many streaming platforms including Spotify. The sheet music for the three pieces is available from www.SheetMusicPlus.com and www.SheetMusicDirect.com. Very highly recommended (the sheet music AND the album)!
February 7, 2024
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Contributing artists:
Kristin Amarie
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