I have been a big fan of Wayne Gratz's music since his first release on Narada back in 1987, and I believe that his newest release, "Two Views," is my favorite. All fifteen piano solos are soft-spoken and understated - a soulful pianist doing what he does best. The title refers to the idea that as children growing up, we spent a lot of time imagining what our lives would be like in the future, while as adults, we probably spend at least as much time looking back and reliving past experiences in our minds. With those themes in mind, some of the music has a light, childlike innocence and some is more pensive and reflective - all of it is soothing, graceful and beautiful!
Each piece on this album is exceptional, but I'll tell you about some of my favorites. The title track is both dreamy and reflective, with a gentle energy and sense of optimism. "White Winter Dusk" conveys the calming quiet of evening as well as the sparkle of light dancing on the snow - gorgeous! "Thor In the Pastures" is a bit darker, with the freedom of an inspired improvisation - haunting! "May Morning" is perhaps my favorite track. Light and carefree, it is springtime set to music. I also really like "The Pathway Home" with its echoed phrases and sense of mystery - perhaps a child's imagination creating new tales while walking a well-worn and familiar path; he or she certainly isn't in any hurry to get home! "Tree Castles" seems to suggest the gentle passing of time while lost in a daydream or fantasy. "Natalie's Song" is an especially poignant tribute to a little girl who recently died at the hands of an abuser. It gently celebrates her tiny life, asks questions, and mourns - an amazing piece. "Kyra's Dance" is a buoyant love song and joyful dance for a treasured life partner. "A Breath of Autumn" is almost Satie-like in its simplicity and expressiveness, hinting at a coolness in the air and dark days ahead, ending the album with a deep sigh.
Many new age pianists have come and gone over the years, and "Two Views" shows clearly why Wayne Gratz has had such staying power. His music is timeless and will never go out of style. "Two Views" will certainly be one of my favorite CDs for 2009! I give it my highest recommendation!