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Album Review: In a Lifetime
Philip Wesley
Cover image of the album In a Lifetime by Philip Wesley
In a Lifetime
Philip Wesley
2004 / Autumn Music Productions
51 minutes
Review by Kathy Parsons
In A Lifetime is Philip Wesley’s second solo piano release, and contains eleven original pieces and three covers. In the liner notes, Wesley proclaims that David Lanz is his “piano idol,” and that composer’s influence is very strong on several of the pieces. The overall feel of the album is of warmth and contentment. The opening track, “Comfort and Joy,”
expresses the feeling of anticipation at the approaching holidays and all that goes with them. “Equestrian Dream” has such a strong Lanz influence that, at first, I thought it was a cover of one of his earlier pieces. I couldn’t pinpoint which one, though, and discovered that it was a Wesley original. The piece is beautiful and has that peaceful, flowing quality that is so prevalent in Lanz’s work. “Greensleeves” is an interesting arrangement, with changing time signatures and moods in the variations. It starts out simply with the melody, and builds with each variation, ending up at a galloping pace complete with a big glissando. The later variations are a bit too heavy-handed for these ears - I love the delicacy of the melody and its poignant feeling, and while I can appreciate a new take on the piece, it’s not my favorite version of this immortal tune. The title track is one of the best on the CD, I think. Both reflective and optimistic, this seems to be Wesley’s true voice. “Love Remembered” is a lovely, bittersweet ballad. Tender and nostalgic, this is another favorite. “Nights in White Satin” is a cover of David Lanz’s wonderful arrangement of The Moody Blues’ classic hit. A lot of liberties are taken with the arrangement - it is definitely not a note-for-note performance. I play and teach Lanz’s arrangement all the time, so some of the changes bother me a bit. The more complex passages are simplified, some of the timing is changed, etc. I know that 99% of the people who hear this version will never notice, but I did. And then there’s “Ode To a Composer,” and yet another interpretation of the venerable “Canon in D.” It’s a very nice improvisation, but this piece has been done to death, and I have a tendency to push the “skip” button on the CD player when it appears. Again, this is job hazard in being a reviewer and a piano teacher; most folks are probably thrilled to hear a new version. “Pursuit of Passion” is a beautiful piece with a gentle, simple melody. “Windows to the Soul” is another favorite. Warm and sincere without flash, this piece comes from the heart.

Overall, In a Lifetime is a very soothing and enjoyable follow-up to “Finding Solace.” I definitely prefer Wesley’s original pieces to his covers, but I realize that many people look for familiar music when they are shopping. Both CDs are available from philipwesley.com, amazon.com, and cdbaby.com.
September 24, 2004
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