Paul L. Fine, Errick Thomas, and Daniel Cronin
2017 / Paul L. Fine
Review by Kathy Parsons
Medical Records is the tenth album of original compositions from Paul L. Fine, an internal medicine physician and an associate professor at The University of Michigan Medical School as well as an outstanding pianist/composer. For this project, Fine collaborated with Errick Thomas and Daniel Cronin, two pianist/composers who also work at the University of Michigan Hospital. Some of Fine’s pieces first appeared on other albums in a somewhat different form and it is a delight to revisit them! Of the fifteen pieces included on the album, nine are Fine’s, four are Thomas’, and two are Cronin’s. While their styles are different, there isn’t a dramatic shift from one composer to the next and their individual pieces complement each other beautifully. I have reviewed all of Fine’s albums over the past ten years and I love that his music is impossible to categorize and that he always presents at least a few musical surprises. Some of the music on Medical Records is on the classical side, some pieces have a jazz influence and some are just plain fun. Most are solo piano, but a few pieces include flute, violin and/or cello. As always, there are extensive liner notes that explain the origins of each piece written by the composer.
Medical Records begins with Fine’s “Maximal Love,” a piano solo composed in honor of the birth of the first child in his family’s “next generation.” Fine often commemorates important events in his friends’ and family’s lives with an original piece of music dedicated to them, and this one is a beauty! “Trio for Flute, Cello, and Piano, No. 1: Welcoming Claire” is another such piece and first appeared as a piano solo on Fine’s debut album, Fine Tuning. In this case, the piano was played by Korin Hancherlian-Amos, the flute by Emily Olson, and the cello by Stefan Koch. Warm and graceful with a lovely classical lilt, it would be a peaceful and soothing lullaby for a sleepy baby of any age! “It’s Me” is the first piece Errick Thomas ever composed (2016) and is an expression of how music can sometimes say far more than words - a very promising first piece! “Snow Day” appeared on Fine’s Doctor’s Notes and celebrates the excitement many children experience when school is closed due a heavy storm. Daniel Cronin’s “The Carousel Ride” continues the playful spirit with a sweet confection composed when his son was an infant. Fine’s “Nocturne for Violin and Piano: Sunset at Birchview” was inspired by his friends’ vacation home overlooking Lake Michigan. At just under 14 minutes, it’s a major work and Priscilla Johnson’s hypnotic violin helps to bring the peaceful vision to life. “The Greek Mystique” was one of my favorites from Fine’s White Coat Compositions. This new version has the same buoyant sense of fun and a spicy Greek flavor! Errick Thomas’ “My Angel” is a loving tribute to his mother played with a ton of heart. “Trio for Flute, Cello, and Piano, No. 2: Saku’s Smile” updates another piano solo from Fine’s first album with additional instrumentation - simply beautiful! “Strings” was composed when Fine was in college and was intended to be part of a film soundtrack about a violinist who suffers with depression. The piece was featured on Fine Tuning as a piano solo, but is now “Trio for Violin, Cello, and Piano: Strings.” Even more heartfelt and poignant than the original, I really love this one! “The Chasing Music” first appeared on White Coat Compositions and was a favorite when I reviewed that album - still is! A lively ragtime piece, it is reminiscent of the music from chase scenes of old silent movies. Fun!!! Thomas’ “My Life” is a more recent composition and is my favorite of his pieces on this album. Daniel Cronin closes the album with his “Love’s Triumphant Journey,” a piece comprised of sections that “arrived” suddenly and celebrate life’s powerful and dramatic moments as well as the triumphs of love - a beautiful ending to an excellent album!
Medical Records is another great album from Paul L. Fine and company! It is available from Amazon, iTunes and CD Baby. Highly recommended!
January 16, 2018