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67 of 76 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars George Winston returneth, but is he at his best...?, October 12, 2004
By 
Edmund P. Crumb (Louisville, KY United States) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Montana: A Love Story (Audio CD)
It is true that this long awaited album is an album close to the heart of George Winston, but is it all it should have been, or could have been? After all, it has been labeled as being the album that takes George Winston back to his roots. Now, when I think of George Winston going back to his roots, musically, I think of Autumn, December, or Winter Into Spring. Montana - A Love Story, I'm afraid, can't quite hold a candle to these albums, nor could it to Summer or Forest. This album is much more closely related to his latter work, Plains, than anything else. And while I liked Plains, it just didn't flow as well as it should have, not the album as a whole or the individual songs therein. There are a few stand out songs from Plains that make it worth having, and listening to frequently, and unfortunately, such is true with Montana - A Love Story.

So, like Plains, I did find a few songs rather exceptional from this new album, of those being: Thumbelina, High Plains Lullaby, The Mountain Winds Call Your Name, Sweet Soul, and Sky. There are others that are worth mentioning such as Valse Frontenac (to a generic degree), Nevertheless Hello (mainly right at the one minute mark), and Music Box (which is no match to Forests' Japanese Music Box). The remaining songs, while okay, failed to live up to my expectations, which did wane slightly after reading the liner notes prior to ordering/buying this CD. I say that they waned in that: I learned that only a few of the songs are original pieces (the way George Winston unfortunately likes it to be), many of the songs were noted as being fiddle or waltz pieces (not my cup of tea), and the fact that so many of the songs are under three minutes in length - I miss the five plus minute songs of old. And I am not quite sure of the artists' intention on the last song, Sky. It seems to end on a rather odd note, or three. I am still trying to figure this one out. It's a great song, but slightly unsettling. Perhaps due to this song's meaning. Of which you'd be best to check out the liner notes for. Sweet Soul and Sky are dedication pieces.

I must say that it pains me a bit to talk so negatively about this album, as it took an obvious amount of energy and feeling from George Winston, but I can't help pointing out my personal opinions based on my ongoing and established appreciation and love of George Winston's music.

One more thing I should note about this CD on a more technical side, as it can be a bit unsettling to the discerning listener. The quality of this album seems to lack overall, and heavily during certain songs. It almost feels as if I am listening to a live recording, with slight indications of the microphone picking up subtle sloshing around of the artist on the piano. While it doesn't distract one's attention too terribly from the works at hand, it can be annoying, especially during one song in particular - The Mountain Winds Call Your Name (my favorite one). This was apparent on Plains as well, but much more prevalent here with Montana - A Love Story. Just a mild warning, that's all.

George Winston proclaimed on many an occasion that he plays mainly in melodic or diatonic form, yet I don't feel that the works contained within this album follow suit. They are a bit, say, more bouncy and sporadic in nature. They do not flow as well as perhaps they should, or at least could have, and tend to repeat in a more chorus like effect than what I am used to with George Winston. He does seem to like to circle around a bit within pieces, and that's fine, but with Montana, he seems to have begun the repetition process for many a song without even going full circle, if that makes any sense. So while I do like this album, I am deeply dissatisfied. However, I cannot rate the album lower because of this, as I am a finicky listener, and expect only the best out of George Winston - an artist I have been listening to [nearly solely] for over fifteen years. And to have waited as long as I have for this CD, one that failed to meet my expectations, is disheartening to an even further degree to know that he won't release another for quite some time, maybe four or five years. I want another Autumn, December, Winter Into Spring, or another Summer or Forest. I want the Seasons back. Sure he may have covered them all by now, but why not revisit them? In fact, I'd be content with a George Winston arranged album of his previous works, as he plays many alternate versions during his live concerts that are beyond outstanding. That is of course, a lofty wish to be sure.
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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Eclectic Northener, November 2, 2004
This review is from: Montana: A Love Story (Audio CD)
As you can guess from the title of this album, George Winston lives in Montana. And, very clearly, he likes it there. Choosing to base his work on folk and traditional music that is associated with that state, the album has only five original compositions. This isn't bad by any means, but I spent my first listening (without reading the notes) thinking how familiar the music sounded. For those of us who are used to the more abstract styling of his other albums this takes a few cuts to get used to.

The sound is still the sparse, acoustic approach that Winston is noted for. He isn't a musician to waste notes unnecessarily, often paring a melody, traditional or not, down to its bare bones. It is more proper to say that he 'derived' his work from Montanan music rather than that he borrowed it. Winston's musical sense is always very good, and it certainly didn't fail him here as he mixes his jazz-like approach with a melodic tradition.

If I had my druthers, I would have liked to hear Winston work more with the music of Montana's northern frontier - the Voyageurs and the Metis. This isn't a criticism, Winston has drawn from what he is most familiar with. I just would like to here what a really good musician could do with traditions that get too little air time in the US.
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars from MainlyPiano.com, November 1, 2004
By 
Kathy Parsons (Florence, OR United States) - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)    (VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: Montana: A Love Story (Audio CD)
"Montana - A Love Story" is George Winston's tribute to his home state, and contains an eclectic grouping of piano solos coming from a variety of sources. The only real surprise on the album is that only five of the seventeen pieces are Winston's original compositions, but I doubt that his fans will be disappointed. From the beginning, Winston has called himself a "folk pianist" rather than "new age," and quite a few of the tracks are folk or traditional songs that Winston arranged as piano solos. Winston has again included a piece by fellow native-Montanan Philip Aaberg, a pianist Winston greatly admires and respects (who doesn't???). Most of the pieces are melodic and graceful, with the possible exception of Frank Zappa's "The Little House I Used to Live In," which is more discordant and abstract - can't say that I like that one much. Winston mentions in his liner notes that he is playing a lot of solo piano dances, and he includes some of his favorite pieces from those as well. Several of the tracks have a strong Asian-influence - an interesting development.

My favorites in this collection are pretty varied. "Thumbelina" comes from Mark Isham's soundtrack for the classic children's story. Gentle and quiet, this is a lovely opening. I really like "Billy In the Low Land," which is a variation on an American fiddle tune. It is easy to picture Montana's vast open spaces and to feel the peace and contentment of a simpler country life. "Valse Frontenac" is a traditional waltz from Quebec, and is a sweet and sincere piece full of charm and simple elegance. I prefer Philip Aaberg's recording of "Nevertheless, Hello," but Winston does this great piece justice. "The Twisting of The Hay Rope" is a joyful ancient Irish piece with a beautiful melody. "You Send Me," a slow-dance arrangement of the Sam Cooke classic, works well as a piano solo. "The Mountain Winds Call Your Name" is one of the originals, and much of it is played on plucked piano strings - a technique Winston has relished for a long time; it's an interesting piece. My favorite track is "Music Box" by Rentaro Taki, a haunting little piece with a bittersweet melody. I also really like Winston's arrangement of "Goodnight Irene," an easy-going waltz composed by Huddie Ledbetter (Leadbelly) in the early 20th century. The final two tracks are loving tributes to two of Winston's cats, both very tender and sweet, and full of Winston's distinctive open spaces.

George Winston has truly become a legend in his own time, and has had a strong influence on many pianists and other musicians. "Montana - A Love Story" is a continuation of his tradition of gathering pieces from a wide variety of sources and making them his own. Winston's many fans will love this album!
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21 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Mr George Winston's Love Story, November 11, 2004
This review is from: Montana: A Love Story (Audio CD)
Mellow, tripping, carefree and atmospheric: George Winston makes some really good neo-classical noises on his Love Story CD, without a doubt the most relaxing you are ever likely to listen to. If you are into your heavy stuff this is not your bag; its feather notes tumbling from the piano have nothing of the grandeur of classical tradition, yet avoids being twee. The subtlety of Chopi without his moodyness. Simple, alluring, sexy and serene. Superb.

ALSO RECOMMENDED: Mehdi~Instrumental Heaven Volume 7 - Samples are at SoothingMusic.Com...A True Gem, Just Go Listen.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A CD for true George Winston fans, October 21, 2004
This review is from: Montana: A Love Story (Audio CD)
I am a long time George Winston fan and was ecstatic to hear about the release of this new CD and I was not disappointed. I can see why he called this album A Love Story - the first three tracks are totally gorgeous, I found track number 3 Valse Frontenac especially romantic and easy to get lost in. I love his ability to make many styles of music his own.

George Winston's music was always made me want to cuddle up to someone I love in front of a warm fire and this CD is another perfect soundtrack. The only song I found a little hard to get my head around was The Little House I Used to Live In, but that wouldn't stop me from giving this CD 4 out of 5 stars.

It's a great album to, along with DECEMBER, add into the CD rotation this season.
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars George Winston - ALWAYS SURPRISING ME, October 21, 2004
This review is from: Montana: A Love Story (Audio CD)
I've been listening to this new album for a few days now. I can't say enough good things about it. When I played it in the office one day everyone that came in asked what it was. If you like George Winston's other albums you will love and cherish this newest album. Don't hesitate to buy it. You won't be sorry.
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6 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Classic George Winston, October 25, 2004
By 
Nancy Kahumoku (Kihei, Hawaii, USA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Montana: A Love Story (Audio CD)
What a great CD! George Winston is a talented, innovative musician which this new recording clearly reflects. It has a great selection of songs, some originals and some interpretations of other composers, constituting a nice mixture of moods and feelings.

One of my favorites is Music Box, twinkling in the upper registers (similar to his previous recordings from the Snowman and Velveteen Rabbit) Other favorites include Goodnight Irene, Montana Glide, and Valse Frontenac (the latter has the classical feel of some of his December songs). Zappa's spooky Little House song is a bit avant-garde, but George Winston didn't get to be who he is by being commercial and predictable. This musician plays from the heart, every song evoking a distinct feeling or mood, and he's not afraid to try new things.

This multidimensional disc has instantly become one of my favorite driving CDs. I'm still waiting for a recording of Winston's fabulous Fats Waller influenced songs that you can only hear in his live concerts, and his Badelamente "midget song" that I only heard once in his concert during the Twin Peaks era. Keep surprising me, George!
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5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars, July 4, 2014
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This review is from: Montana: A Love Story (Audio CD)
Everything George Winston plays is magical.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Montana: A Love Story, April 4, 2014
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This review is from: Montana: A Love Story (Audio CD)
I have worn out several of his other tapes and I'm thinking of replacing them!!! His music just puts me into another world.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Repeat, April 4, 2014
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This review is from: Montana: A Love Story (Audio CD)
This CD was to replace one that had worn out! Love it just as much as I did the first time around.
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Montana: A Love Story
Montana: A Love Story by George Winston (Audio CD - 2004)
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