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RJ Lannan is the reviewer for The Sounding Board.
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Portraits In Season
By Charles Denler
Label: Grumpy Monkey Music
Released 10/1/2015
Portraits In Season tracks
1. Season's Overture
2. Return of Spring
3. Woodland Flowers of June
4. Mid-Summer's Intermezzo
5. Autumn's Last Leaf
6. A Winter’s Memory
7. Spring Variation Spring Meadows
8. Summer Variation The Water Garden
9. Fall Variation Leaf On The Wind
10. Winter Variation Winter's Repose
11. Season's Finale Spring’s Reprise
For His Father
Portraits in Season, the ninth release by composer Charles Denler strikes a chord with me, no pun intended. I am entering my "mature" years. I am past sixty, but I feel younger. My body betrays me from time to time, but it always allows me to look back and capture each and every blessed memory I have ever made. Charles celebrates the making of those special memories on his eleven track album of contemporary/New Age/cinematic music featuring piano and orchestration.

Charles Denler is an Multi-Emmy Award winning composer most noted for film and TV scores, live concerts and he is, without a doubt the official musical ambassador for the state of Colorado. Denler has been the subject of several magazine articles and he is the star of this review. Even when he offers up a solo piano work, he develops complexity in the melody and he delivers it in a grand style. The album is divided into three parts. Part One is called Portraits in Season: Suite for Piano and Virtual Orchestra. Part Two is Seasonal Variations for Solo Piano and the last part is called Finale for Piano and Orchestra.

Part One

Season's Overture is aptly named to begin the suite. The virtual orchestra sounds the trumpets in a Grofé-esque manner, the music builds and then segues into a strong piano lead. It is chock full of pastel sunrises and vivid sunsets that become a celebration of a life. A life full of colors and textures, experiences and natural energies.

There is a definitive Celtic feel to Woodland Flowers of June. It is a moss strewn melody that promises a babbling brook, towering pine trees and a rare glimpse at flowers we only see in the ink-etched field guides. Denler uses the power of a pipe organ (synthesized from flutes and French horns) to characterize the lofty forest, strings to paint an azure sky and the diminutive ocarina to represent those rare bits of color that come into our lives, even if only temporarily. Hopefully, they are perennial.

Part Two

Spring Variations: Spring Meadows has a fragile opening. It represents soft days of light and the beginning of warmth. It is the child of the season.

Summer Variations: The Water Garden invites the placid feeling one gets when contentment fills our souls. It is the sparkling warmth, the kindness of green waters and the time we allow ourselves to count each ripple that comes our way.

Fall Variations: Leaf on the Wind musically offers the spiraling beauty of gold and orange that we cherish each autumn. It represents our adult years, our "seasoning" if you will, where we have lived through a multitude of summers and look forward to our twilight time.

Winter Variation: At Winter's Repose summons the image of the landscape covered in white. It is fresh, clean and still. It is the time of our lives when we reflect on our past deeds and take stock of what we have accomplished. It is now that we set modest goals for the future. I found this piece particularly sad for some reason. Perhaps it was my own mortality looking through my window.

Part Three

Season's Finale: Spring's Reprise makes me remember that the seasons, above all, are a cycle. Denler combine his piano with the talents of the City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra to look back once more of the life of a man of many seasons. There are elements of newness, growth, familiarity and reflection, but soon the cycles will repeat again and again.

Charles Denler presents on Portraits in Season a complex, yet clear interpretation of the life of man through courageous music. We get to experience everything and more that the notes have to offer including the deep emotion that Denler has imbued into the compositions. It is now up to the listeners, myself included, to learn from history and grow with it.
Rating: Very Good +   Very Good +
- reviewed by RJ Lannan on 2/28/2016
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