George Winston has the unique ability to play bright, uplifting, yet stingingly melancholy piano, and Summer is one of the best examples of his fine work around. Somewhere between the ambient-style tone poems of Winter into Spring and the melodious charm of Autumn, Summer dances brightly, evoking images of relaxing under a tree or children playing in a field. Highlights are many and include Winston's "Lullaby," full of melody and lyrical tension; "Hummingbird," with its whirling repetitive structure, reflecting the vibrant dimension of nature during the summer season; and the fun, rambling "Corrina, Corrina." In short, this is another album of what Winston does best–underscoring the poetic moments of life through poignant, beautiful music.Karen Karleski amazon.com
More like poems for piano than traditional, structured songs, the music of George Winston plays like a lyrical soundtrack to the natural world's rhythms, and nowhere is this more brilliantly enacted than on his third album, Winter into Spring. There are wondrous, beautiful melodies here, but what's amazing is Winston's intense inspiration that spills from his spirit and flows straight to the keys. He uses simple techniques that would hardly impress the most intellectual of music critics but can bring any listener with an artist's heart to tears. Tense and full of motion, his Steinway urgently rolls through songs like aspen leaves fluttering in the wind. From the first sparse, tinkling notes of "January Stars," Winston pulls you into his solitary dreamscape and doesn't let you go until the CD's end. During "January Stars" it's hard not to imagine standing in crunchy snow while staring up at stars glittering in a black, expansive sky. Another standout, the 10-minute "Rain," may be the most archetypal of Winston pieces. Beginning with serene, deliberate melodies, the piece jumps into a chiming complexity that grows until the listener is drenched in streams of urgent, rushing-watery notes. It's fitting Winston named this album after a transition because the music couldn't take you to lovelier places. A masterpiece.Karen Karleski, amazon.com
If you are looking for excellent solo piano music, look no further. Autumn is the predecessor to George Winston's 1982 masterpiece, December, and fittingly poses as a worthy runner-up to the pianist's very best work. It's difficult to capture such passionate performance on a solo piano studio recording, but George Winston's sincerity and emotion shimmers through each track on this remarkable disc.Aaron Blight, AMAZON.com
While Vince Guaraldi's piano playing and composing have had a big influence on George Winston's work, there is little sense of direct imitation in this affecting tribute to the man who composed the memorable music for the television specials based on cartoonist Charles M. Schultz's Peanuts characters. Winston's solo piano style is fuller and more reflective than Guaraldi's, a hearty blend of powerful chords and subdued rhythms. It seems to embrace Guaraldi's tunes, both the Peanuts songs, like the title tune and "You're in Love, Charlie Brown," and Guaraldi's other music, like "Cast Your Fate to the Wind" and "Monterey," which seems to blend somber tones with an almost luminous quality. The warmth, wit, and whimsy here evoke memories of the best work of Guaraldi and Schultz.Adam Rains, amazon.com
George Winston cites the Doors as a seminal influence on his music in the liner notes for the 20th anniversary edition of Autumn. Winston is a voracious musical explorer, and the Doors are among several musical tributes Winston has rolling around in his head. He's already paid homage to pianist Vince Guaraldi with Linus and Lucy. Winston's take on the acid-rock shamans is sometimes magical, sometimes regretful. It's no secret that George isn't a great technician, and you can hear the flaws whenever he remains true to the melody, especially replicating Robbie Krieger's guitar lines. But some songs are just perfect for Winston, notably "Crystal Ship," which he expands into a gorgeous meditation. Winston mixes the hits, including "Light My Fire," with some eccentric personal choices like "Spanish Caravan" and "My Wild Love." Ardent Doors devotees may cringe, but Winston fans will find a home here.John Diliberto, amazon.com
Having exhausted the seasons and then dallying with Vince Guaraldi's music on Linus & Lucy, pianist George Winston returns to a favorite field of exploration, American landscapes. He started out with Forest in 1994 and now returns with Plains, his first new album in three years. Inspired largely by the open spaces of Montana where he grew up, Plains nevertheless mixes in traditional Irish and Hawaiian traditional, as well as standards from Sammy Cahn and Chet Atkins. Always an astute listener, Winston also finds contemporary gems from Angelo Badalamenti and Sarah McLachlan. Winston has two styles. One is the open, flowing liquid drops of sound heard on his original compositions that have made him a favorite since his Windham Hill debut, Autumn; the other is a rootsy Americana. Winston is competent and sincere, but undistinguished in the latter terrain, playing Cahn's "Teach Me Tonight" like any number of long-forgotten cocktail lounge pianists. But on originals like "Rainsong," "Cloudburst," and "Plains," Winston's piano rings out like an echo from the big sky. A special limited edition of the disc includes two songs on acoustic guitar. –John Diliberto, amazon.com
Having made a gradual switch during the 15 years since his first album was published from electronica to instrumental variations on ambient and minimalism, Max Richter is among the most commercially successful composers of our time. This album of his solo piano music belongs in the genre explored so thoroughly for Brilliant Classics by Jeroen van Veen, whose prolific recording history includes hugely popular albums of Philip Glass (BC9419) and Michael Nyman (BC95112), Ludovico Einaudi (BC94910) and Yann Tiersen (BC95129) and his fellow Dutch musician Jakob ter Veldhuis (BC94873) and himself (BC9454). The appetite for slowly moving, unchallenging, post-Minimalist music is apparently infinite, and so this new album is sure to be a success.
It was pretty clear that Billy Joel had run out of steam by 1993's River of Dreams. He had shown signs of wearing on its predecessor, Storm Front, but his trademark melodic gift disappeared on River of Dreams and his words, even performances, were bone-tired – he even called the last song "The Last Song (No More Words)." So, it was no great surprise that he did not rush to record a follow-up, and when he started murmuring toward the end of the decade that perhaps he wasn't interested in pop music anymore, nobody who paid attention could have been surprised.