Paul Winter's Crowning Achievement.
Bob Zeidler | Charlton, MA United States | 11/08/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Before early 1995 - shortly after this album had been released - I had never listened to any of Paul Winter's music, believing that most critics and music reviewers were correct in categorizing his output under the New Age rubric. New Age music held no interest for me; by the mid 80's, a full decade before discovering this album, I had by then my fill of "feel-good noodlings." How wrong one can be in taking these critics and reviewers at their word regarding such classification!
"Prayer for the Wild Things" is serious music with a purpose, something very different from one's notion of New Age music. Coming from the classical side of music, I was immediately struck by how sections of "Prayer" brought to mind some of the best of mystical minimalism, and, as well, Paul Winter's skill in setting out an extended suite that thoroughly, and captivatingly, integrates his own musical ideas with native American music and the musics of various fauna found in the Northern Rockies.
This is a spell-weaving album, using an instrumental palette not likely found anywhere else, performed by prodigiously talented musicians. (For just one idea of the talent in this group, I recommend that you listen to John Clark's staggering French horn work in "Elk Horns.")
The final section ("Overture to a New Day") of three tracks reprises the themes set out earlier. While the album as a whole represents virtuosic musicianship of the highest order, this reprise is clearly the high point. "Night Into Dawn" collects the various earlier themes in what could be described as a highly improvisational way. It can be listened to repeatedly, with fresh discoveries at each hearing. (With the remarkable clarity of the recording, each instrumental line in this reprise can be followed with ease.) "Dance of All Beings" is a reprise of "Round Dance," a Native American chant. When this theme returns in "Dance of All Beings," Paul Winter finds a way, as he does so often, to weave in his unique touch with it in a way that can only be described as remarkable.
This may well be the best introduction to Paul Winter's work for classical music lovers. If you react to it as I did, you will quickly rush to obtain more of his work, and be continually amazed at his range, his musical skill, and his total commitment to the integration of his personal style with the musics of nature and wildlife. After nearly seven years with this constant friend of mine, I still find myself muttering to myself, "Mr. Winter, I don't know how you manage to weave this spell!"
Enthusiastically recommended without reservation!
The best of the Paul Winter CDs
Guardian of the Zen Sea | Looking after the sun and surf | 10/07/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"To my mind, this is one of the best of the Paul Winter CDs. Other favorites are Common Ground, Callings and Missa Gaia. This CD evokes wild places and the critters that live in them. There are some samples of bird calls, wolves and other critters, but overall the focus is on the music. The use of the frame drum in several pieces and the evocative use of the cello with Paul Winter's mellow woodwinds create a truly winning combination. The music is really excellent when heard in one sitting since it is like a concert within one CD."