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Nightfall London by Rick Sparks
- posted by Lillian on 6/28/2017
Rick Sparks Specializes In Soft, Gentle Music
PIANIST RICK SPARKS SPECIALIZES IN SOFT, GENTLE, QUIET, NEW AGE MUSIC


New age pianist and ace strings arranger Rick Sparks is back with his fourth album, NIGHTFALL LONDON, following up his ENDLESS album which went Top 10 on the prestigious international Zone Music Reporter Top 100 Chart that specifically monitors new age music. Sparks colors his piano music with the sounds of synth and electronic keyboards, string sections, flutes, chimes, choirs and individual stringed instruments such as violin. This is exquisite, melodic, soft, gentle music. Besides his expertise as a musician, Sparks also is a longtime radio programmer and a college professor. As the album title indicates, the music on this recording was generally inspired and influenced by England (with brief nods also to Scotland and Japan). The music is ideal for relaxing after a hard day of work, or as a backdrop for social adventures with a partner or a small group of friends.
Rating: Excellent
Nightfall London by Rick Sparks
- posted by Steve Sheppard on 6/20/2017
Will bring a smile and warmth to all that listen
When I think back, I have had an extensive career in broadcasting and media and I am always amazed when I come across albums that remind me of my past and Nightfall London does just that, in fact the melodies and performance style takes me back to my fledgling years as a broadcaster on local radio in the late 90’s. In those days New World Music was a label at its peak and the sound of New Age melodies floated forever across my turntables. Nightfall London returns me to my new age music roots, but also brings us up-to-date. It captures all that was good back then and releases new energies to the world with a lush sweet production.
Listen to the opening piece called Across the River; this has to be one of the prettiest beginning pieces I have heard for ages. It has a delicate angelic repose; the piano is ethereal and loving. This is one of those tracks that you could easily watch the nightfall over any place or bridge in the world; the narrative is so redolent of the subject matter and drawn so well.
The title track is amazing and of course called Nightfall London, the opening bars are a real scene setter, swirling back and forth, and creating musical imagery with every note played. I use to live just down the road from London, it was my place of birth and while things have changed there, this piece of music, creates for me a memory filled palace of emotive moments, of when I was a child and looked at everything, and saw only goodness with an innocent wide eyed wonder.
After a classic moment of new age musical brilliance with the title track, we’re once again on our musical journey and we come across a composition called Little Angel. The performance here is ultra-delicate; it is as if we are a china doll waking up to find that we are alive in a world so vast an incalculable. Listen to Sparks on piano here, the fluency is amazing and a pleasure to listen to.
The sound of a distant flute greets our ears on this next track called First Love. This is actually a very clever composition, a steady build and growth of musical mastery can be found here, but somehow Sparks takes on the subject of love, which at times can be both painful and all-consuming, and covers all the bases musically with a consummate ease.
At the half way juncture, we shift location and find ourselves walking in the Tokyo Rain. The performance style gives us a subtle, but calming motif of an eastern flavour. One day I would like to go to Japan and I may well include this delightful piano piece on my playlist if I do, it would be perfect. A supremely well played arrangement indeed and one that depicts with ease, a warm summer rain drifting down from the skies above, and onto the puddled streets of Tokyo.
As we now move deeper into the album we come across a charming composition called Beyond the Stars. A personal favourite subject of mine all of my life; I am a firm believer of an abundance of life throughout the universe. This track has a really beautiful flow to its arrangement and really reminds me once again of early new age music, from artists like Terry Oldfield and Stephen Rhodes. One can also find a movement of a slow rotation within this piece, perhaps our journey through and beyond the stars to the many myriad of dimensions that lay in waiting for us.
Now it does seem rather strange for me, I’m sitting here in shorts and a short sleeve shirt, in temperatures of near on a 100f, and listening to In the Bleak Midwinter. The funny thing is it is one of a couple of carols that I do find most appealing. Once again Sparks does not only do the original song justice, he adds to its initial construction, by bringing an angelic choir and orchestration into the mix, I will have to remember this one for my Christmas playlists.
We are now drawing to the end of the release, and we find a lovely track called Hearts as One waiting for us in the corner of the room, to the left of the log fire, this is charming. I mention the fire, only for the purpose of the romantic vision that it draws in my mind’s eye, as I could see myself laying with my beautiful wife upon a fur rug, snuggled up as our hearts beat as one to this stunningly heartfelt composition. A more romantic and all loving piece you would not find elsewhere.
Our penultimate offering is called Highland Rose and it also gifts us a little moment of Celtic magic as well. The piano of Sparks manifests a painting of the highlands with ease, and whilst the tune plays and the melody wraps itself around our senses, we can drift off to a place so remote, but blissfully beautiful to behold. This is the skill of a master composer, listen as the orchestration kicks in, it’s subtle, but draws a compelling and graphic narrative.
The end of the road has been reached with Rick Sparks and we are gifted just one more song to take with us along on our way, this one is called Evening Prayer. A gentle piece is created before our willing ears, and what a clever and respectful way to leave the album. Listen carefully to the calming and healing manifestation of chords and notes here, it is really exquisite and the addition of the ethereal choir only added to the magnificence of the overall composition.
Nightfall London has indeed brought me full circle and I thank Rick Sparks for his efforts on this album, it has been created with love and intention and a delicacy of care and attention. Nightfall London must be ranked as one of the best New Age albums I have heard this year, its production and quality, along with its stylish and creative and self-assured performances, will bring a smile and a warmth to all who listen to this release, you just have to make Nightfall London part of your musical collection.
Rating: Excellent
The Fall of a Sparrow by Timothy Crane
- posted by Steve Sheppard on 6/18/2017
Bursting with quality and style
It’s amazing to think just how time flies, I remember my first contact with Timothy Crane, all of four years ago with his album Piano Forte and here I am now walking through the realms of his latest offering, The Fall of a Sparrow.
We start with a brisk opener, called Albion, which is the oldest known name for the country of my birth, Britain. This lively short form gift for our musical journey moves us onwards and towards a piece called Come Holy Spirt, a reflective composition, that has a sense of its own energy about its construction. There is a beautiful fluency about Cranes performance and with the added instrumentation we are gifted a truly picturesque arrangement; there is a mood about this piece that is so enticing. The pause and change of tempo over the half way mark is clever and then the track seems to increase in intensity, this is certainly one to listen to a few times over.
The symphonic start at the beginning of The Sound of Snow was incredibly beautiful; one could imagine with ease this piece being part of a blockbuster seasonal movie. The piano then takes up the narrative and we are gifted a memorable and quite breath-taking composition of great quality and style.
To Rise and Go is up next, a flowing start on piano is only added to by a respectful layer of added instrumentation that creates for us a melodic piece, which perhaps seems to usher in a new path to be taken. There also seems to be an opportunity to move onward through this piece, which we must do now, as we move onto the next track.
That song is Father and Son. I was blessed to have had some amazing times with my father, those memories still linger as I get older, and here Crane has manifested an arrangement that is so thoughtful in its repose. One could imagine a father and son sharing some private moments that would never been forgotten through the energy of this piece.
I really enjoyed the change in tempo on the track Alone. A perfect careful beginning, drawing a narrative of aloneness is our start, and then Crane creates a narrative through his performance that is tinged with a sense of mournfulness, but always retaining a sense of hope within the construction of the composition.
Star Cross Moon is one of those tracks you wait for, almost know how it’s going to go, but still amazed at the depth of arrangement and compositional structure. Listen to the flow here, it’s truly moving, you could easily be standing outside listening to this in the early hours, watching the shooting stars fly across the face of the moon, the strings here are so carefully played, the orchestration is perfect for the theme and one of my favourite tracks of the release.
We now move into the second half of the album and come across a song called The First Day. The title poses many questions for each of us, but Cranes skill in multi-instrumentational performance is sublime. The piano dictates the narrative and the track just flows with an all empowering energy of a new beginning, a new day, the power within this piece just cannot be denied.
I love festivals and on Festival de Musique, we have a wonderful sense of excitement built into the arrangement of the piece. The percussion here is perfect for the tracks flowing narrative. Cranes empowering playing is energetic and exciting and filled with a musical colour that is alluring.
There have been a few albums and tracks that have landed on my desk about the dawn and first light; it is an inspiring time of the day and one that I love. Here the artist manifests a soft, but growing sense of anticipation on the composition called Slowly Awaken the Dawn. Through the tones of this beautiful piece one can almost watch musically the forest awaken, and a new day begin.
The title track is up next and I can see why our listeners are falling in love with it on the radio. This is another cinematic opportunity created by Crane, one that flows with a classical passion. The Fall of a Sparrow has everything, perfect pace, a superbly emotive melody and a formidable powerful symphonic sense of musical grandeur; this is a truly marvellous title track.
As we move deeper into the album we come across a piece called Promise, there is an undeniable sense of intensity here, the passion flows strong within this offering, we can feel through Cranes performance just how important this promise actually is. Listen also to the beautifully paced percussion and symphonic build and progression in this piece, it’s something to behold.
The night has fallen and it’s time to walk within the realm of visions, and here on Daniel’s Dream we have the perfect soundtrack for that moment in time. This is another favourite of mine. Crane plays this very carefully, but the anxious nature of this arrangement is quite addictive, the artist has perfectly manifested the theme music for these night time perambulations. Listen to the dark segment here on the lower notes; this is one of those pieces I could listen to many times over.
Our penultimate offering is called Chasonnette, which I believe may mean Little Song. Whatever the meaning this piece is far from tiny, Crane has a supreme ability to grow greatness even from the smallest composition. There is a real sense of fun and happiness here as well, that is so charming and inviting to listen to.
So we reach the end of our journey with Timothy Crane and his latest work The Fall of a Sparrow. But before we push open the last door and leave this musical dimension, the artist has one more gift for us to take along our way and called At Home in the Garden. It’s always good to leave your listener fulfilled and wanting more and on this track Crane does just that. It’s a sun kissed composition that builds slowly and creates a warm and lush back drop of sound, for us to leave this latest offering from the musician with a happy smile upon our faces.
The Fall of a Sparrow by Timothy Crane is an album that will not only pacify those whole love piano based arrangements, but also please those of us who love the added instrumentation that’s cleverly weaved into the mix. Timothy Crane’s expertise in composition and performance has brought to us, a truly splendid offering that will have us smiling all the way home, in an album that is packed with a melodic genius and will remain forever in the musical heart, an album bursting with a quality and style that should completely entrance the listener forever.
Rating: Excellent
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