James Michael Stevens
2020 / James M Stevens Music
Review by Kathy Parsons
Are you in the mood for some mellow, melodic solo piano music tinged with romance and perfect for a quiet fall evening (or morning or afternoon?)? Once again, James Michael Stevens delivers with Autumn Moods, a collection of nineteen original piano solos that reflect on the changing of the seasons and the vibrant colors of autumn as cooler weather moves in. A remarkably prolific composer of music for choirs as well as a variety of instruments and ensembles, Dr. Stevens is the chairman of the Music Department at Welch College in Tennessee. With heartfelt emotions flowing through all of his music, his eloquent melodies are uncluttered and sincere, soothing and touching the hearts of those who listen. In short, this is the peaceful, calming music we all need in these troubled and frightening times.
It’s not easy to choose favorite tracks on Autumn Moods, but there are too many to mention them all. Here are some highlights. The album begins with “Treasured Moments,” a warmly nostalgic look back at the special times of life. “Pure Romance” is a slow, dreamy waltz that overflows with love. “Fall Reflections” is somewhat darker but very peaceful. “Fall Serenade” also has a beautiful melancholy tone that could be reflective of the passage of time as well as the coming of winter. Like the “Gentle Breeze” that it’s named for, the tempo of the piece is constantly changing - not dramatically, but the contrasts are lovely. “A Moment of Serenity” is one of the most reflective and relaxed tracks - taking time to breathe deeply and reflect on the good things in life. “Forgotten Summer” returns to a more nostalgic feeling and would be perfect behind the end credits of a romantic movie. “Colors” has a slightly “old-timey” movie feeling that is warm and dreamy - three minutes of bliss! “When the Swan Appears” perfectly captures the grace and (seemingly) effortless movement of a swan gliding on a lake - tranquility set to music! The darkly introspective “Voices of Twilight” is hushed yet deeply emotional. If I had to choose one favorite on the album, this would be it. “Starlight Romance” closes the album with a slow moonlit dance that only the dancers can hear.
What a lovely 49 minutes of gentle piano music James Michael Stevens has given us! Fellow pianists will be happy to note that there is a companion sheet music book for Autumn Moods that is available to download from SheetMusicPlus.com. The recorded album is available on Amazon, iTunes/Apple Music, and Spotify among other retail and streaming sites.
October 11, 2020