By Way of the Wind
2023 / playMountain Music
Review by Kathy Parsons
By Way of the Wind is pianist/composer Robin Spielberg's twenty-fourth album and her first symphonic work. Calling it "the crowning glory of my career," the album was recorded with the Budapest Scoring Orchestra and Robin at the piano. The eleven tracks are among Robin's best-loved works, three of which date back to her 1993 debut, Heal of the Hand. Robin and Louis Anthony deLise spent several hours a day for more than a year working on the arrangements for the project, which has been a dream of Robin's for more than thirty years; deLise also did the orchestrations. I can only imagine the joy Robin felt as her dream came to fruition, and the resulting album is an inspiring and uplifting collection "that reflects how we are carried, pushed, challenged, and guided through life by unseen forces."
To help celebrate Robin's dream-come-true, By Way of the Wind is being released in several formats: digital, streaming, and as an extra-special boxed set. The set includes the CD, a hand-stitched 20-page booklet with Robin's writings about the inspiration for the music, illustrated with beautiful line-drawings throughout; five picture "post cards" that further illustrate and give more insight into the music; and an enamel pin based on the "bird-angel" cover artwork. The boxed sets are signed and numbered, making this quite an extraordinary package! Even the box that it comes in is special, and would look very handsome on any bookshelf! The sets are available exclusively from Robin's website for the modest price of $42.50.
Even before the release date, By Way of the Wind received several awards. "Ireland: An Orchestral Portrait" was released in 2022 as an eleven-minute single and received a Gold Award for "Best Classical Song" by Clouzine International Music Awards, a Silver Medal from Global Music Awards as "Best Classical Crossover Composition," and was nominated as "Best Epic/Orchestral" by Hollywood Music & Media Awards. "Walk With Me" was nominated for "Best Contemporary Classical Composition" by Hollywood Independent Music Awards. Look out, Grammys!
I want to mention a few favorites from the album. I have always assumed that "Wherever You Go" was a love song, and it is, but it was dedicated to Robin's teachers - in and out of the classroom. Warmth and a gentle grace flow from every note of this lovely piece. "A Song For Jennie" is very possibly Robin's best-known piece and tells of her grandmother's journey to America from Russia as well as her experiences after she arrived. Eight pages of the booklet are devoted to the story, a celebration of the human spirit and its resilience in the face of almost any difficulty. This orchestrated version soars to new heights and takes on even more meaning than the original piano solo (which I love!). The very cinematic "Return of a Knight" celebrates triumph over a different kind of adversity with far more pomp than a piano solo can muster. "Walk With Me" was inspired by a memory of a wordless walk Robin took with her mother in the woods years ago and expresses the closeness and ease of that experience. I've already mentioned "Ireland," and it is definitely one of my favorites. A tribute to military service members and veterans, the three-part "New Freedom Suite" includes "Memories of Utopia," "Soldier's Journey" and "One Step Closer."
By Way of the Wind is available digitally from Amazon, Apple Music/iTunes, and many streaming platforms. The boxed sets are available exclusively from Robin's website. A live premiere with full orchestra will take place on Sunday, November 12, 2023 in Lake Jackson, TX with Robin as soloist with the Brazosport Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Maestro Brian Casey. "Brava" to Robin Spielberg for making her dream come true! The album is a masterpiece - especially the boxed set!
October 18, 2023