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Album Review: Memories of Utopia
Robin Spielberg
Cover image of the album Memories of Utopia by Robin Spielberg
Memories of Utopia
Robin Spielberg
2004 / playMountain
60 minutes
Review by Kathy Parsons
Memories of Utopia is a ten-year retrospective of Robin Spielberg’s music, lovingly re-recorded as piano solos. The fifteen tracks include three pieces that haven’t been recorded before, several that are presented as solo works for the first time, and a bonus track that is a wild dance remix of “A Change of Season” that needs to be heard to be believed! I have been a big fan of Robin’s music since almost the beginning of her recording career, and it has been wonderful to be able to watch her mature and blossom as an artist. Memories of Utopia is the perfect celebration and commemoration of that journey so far.

“Because of You” opens the collection. A loving tribute to Robin’s husband, the piece is bubbly and effervescent. “Ireland” is a favorite from Robin’s debut album, “Heal of the Hand,” and has been expanded to a full 9 1/2 minutes. I really love this piece, with its varied themes and swirling air of mystery! “Piano Parlor Soiree” is one of the new pieces, and was inspired by performances Robin has done in Belcourt Castle in Rhode Island. Very classical in scope, this piece is actually made up of several separate themes that are woven together and showcase Spielberg’s elegant and very accomplished playing style. “A Change of Season” has been another favorite for years, and I love this solo version! “Meditation” is a new piece that is dreamy and reflective - gorgeous! Any “best of” collection would be incomplete without the wonderful “A Song For Jennie,” Robin’s piece for her grandmother. In concert she tells a spellbinding story about the hardships Jennie endured travelling from Russia to join her husband in America many years ago. Jennie passed away in 2003, but her spirit lives on with this piece. “West Bank Serenade” is another favorite with its wish for peace in the Middle East. The title track comes from a score Spielberg composed for a play back in 1987 for the Atlantic Theater Company, which she co-founded. “The Nature of Time” is one of my all-time Spielberg favorites, and I’m so glad she included it in this collection! More of a “concept piece” than most of Spielberg’s compositions, I love the contrasts between the frantic pace of the first part of the piece and the slow, lazy second part. And then there is the bonus track - a total surprise. A thumping bass and some electronic effects take this beautiful piece into an entirely new realm - and it works perfectly! It reminds me of the dance remix of Ray Lynch’s “Celestial Soda Pop” on his “Best Of” collection of a few years back - I loved that one, too!

Memories of Utopia is an outstanding collection! If you are new to Robin Spielberg’s music, this is a wonderful introduction. If you are a longtime fan, these updated solos will be a welcome addition to your collection. Very highly recommended! Brava, Robin!
August 3, 2004