What We Hold Dear
2017 / Timothy Wenzel
Review by Kathy Parsons
What We Hold Dear is the seventh album from composer/ pianist/ keyboardist Timothy Wenzel. The first thing that grabs you about this album is the vibrant and dramatic cover artwork by Daniel Berard (original artwork) and Edson Moraes (colorization). Moraes has worked on several very distinctive and powerful album covers for Wenzel, and this one shows a mother and her two daughters holding each other in a field as a tornado approaches what we can assume is their farmhouse. The artwork beautifully illustrates Wenzel’s inspiration for the music: “One of the most important lessons in life is to learn to concentrate on what we have rather than what we don’t have.” He also says that the twelve compositions on the album reflect aspects of life that are especially meaningful to him. Wenzel’s previous full-time career was as a research scientist and he says that music and science have always been his two main passions. My thought was that they are so different, but Wenzel explains: “Scientific exploration is full of creativity and is very much like writing a song. In both cases you start with an idea and then explore the possibilities of where it can lead.”
Violinist Josie Quick (Perpetual Motion) appears on ten of the twelve tracks, providing depth and expression that synth strings just don’t have (yet). Jordan Schug plays cello on six pieces and Sarah Hoerz provides wordless vocals on one. Engineering wizard Corin Nelsen did the mastering, recorded the cello, and provided consultation. Wenzel composed all of the music, produced the album, played keyboards, and did the cover design and final artwork.
What We Hold Dear begins with “Murmuration” (a collective term for starlings). If you have ever seen thousands of starlings swirling in the air as a unit, you have witnessed this “dance of nature.” The tempo of the piece is unhurried and the music has a rural, open feeling - a great start! The title track continues the leisurely pace with sampled piano, flute and guitar leading the way through the poignant melody; violin and cello also add their magic to this beautiful piece - a favorite. “Appalachian Waters” is light and sparkling with a very peaceful vibe. “A Spring Day in Autumn” illustrates the idea of an older person suddenly able to experience his or her youth again, but with the perspective and experience that living for a long time can provide. Dreamy and nostalgic, the piece builds to a graceful cinematic sweep. “Hypnotized” is a gentle and tender love song for violin, piano, flute and guitar. “Moon Dance” is fairly slow, but the addition of light percussion makes it quite danceable. “In a Little While” is another favorite. Inspired by the sad and empty feelings of being away from loved ones, the song itself has mountain roots and comes from the heart. “On a Quiet Night” came about after a magical night of watching and photographing the Northern Lights.” Peaceful and shimmering, the music almost glows. Wenzel likes to close his albums with a soothing love song or lullaby, and he does just that with the calming rhythms of a quiet ocean in “Turquoise Sky, Emerald Sea.”
What We Hold Dear has started zooming up the charts, and rightly so! It is available from Amazon, iTunes, and CD Baby. Recommended!
June 13, 2017