Portrait of a Waterfall Fiona Joy Hawkins 2004 / Little Hartley Music 50.6 minutes
"Portrait of a Waterfall" is the debut recording of one of my favorite artists, Fiona Joy Hawkins. For some reason, this album never made it to my hands until Fiona was here last month to perform Two Grand I’m Yours with Trysette and I mentioned that I’d never heard it. So, now it’s time to correct this situation with a review! Quite often it can be a revelation to go back to an artist’s first album and hear how far he or she has progressed over the years. The main thing that has changed in Fiona’s case is the quality of her piano and the use of live musicians rather than keyboard accompaniment. Several of the twelve pieces on this album have evolved over the years with different arrangements and even a variety of titles, so it’s fun to hear how they were originally unveiled to the world.
The album opens with “Escarpment Dreaming,” a piece Hawkins composed when she was fourteen. Poignant and a little mysterious, it’s a lovely beginning! “View From My Studio” is a Fiona classic that really caught my attention on her 2007 album Ice: Piano Slightly Chilled. I really love this one! The title track is also a classic and has really benefited from the use of live musicians rather than “canned” strings. “Opus Rain” is a three-movement piece that is absolutely gorgeous. The first movement, “Through Cloud” is ambient and ethereal. The second movement, simply title “Rain” is another classic and I love every version of it I’ve ever heard. The third movement, “The Ascent,” is flowing and graceful with piano and strings. “Prelude to a Landscape” is a piece composed to describe an abstract landscape painting. As a painter herself, Fiona obviously understands the sounds of colors and shapes and makes this a very compelling piece. “A Winter Morning” is another all-time favorite that has evolved over the years. It’s just as effective in its 2004 version, but I love all the changes it’s been through as well. “Ciney’s Theme (Wedding March)” is a lovely piece composed for a friend’s wedding. Fiona composed “For the Roses” when she was twelve, and the song was played at her grandmother’s funeral - a very touching and emotional tribute to a beloved grandma.
If you missed "Portrait of a Waterfall" the first time around, check it out. It is available from littlehartleymusic.com, Amazon, iTunes, and CD Baby. Recommended!