This album came as a complete surprise to me! If you are already a fan, or have purchased some of Timothy Wenzel’s past releases, you may feel as if you know what to expect with his albums. This set of songs is different. I wager that you, as I was, will be totally surprised by this release. It not only met my expectations, but it exceeded them. After listening to What We Hold Dear from beginning-to-end, I have come to the conclusion that, in this collection of songs, Timothy has out-done even himself! I think this album has that extra little zing to it because of the string section. The players on this cd are simply masterful at bringing to life the sounds and melodies that must have been lurking around in Timothy’s head and heart. I must warn you, however, that after listening to this album a few times, you will find yourself humming certain haunting melodies to yourself and then wondering, “Where did that come from?” Then the next time you listen to the album you will say, “Oh, that’s where that tune came from. The melody came from What We Hold Dear.” Like all great music, these melodies stay with you. They sound oh so familiar; even though, they are totally new to this world. They just seem familiar because they came from the zeitgeist. This is the reason Timothy’s music is so hard to classify. It seems to come from the spirit of this age. Timothy’s music is definitely the music of our time, but what should we call it? Is it classical? Is it New Age? Is it Celtic? One cannot just put a label on to any of Timothy’s works. I predict: In 100-years or less, Timothy’s music will be considered the classical music of the 2,000’s. If you have never heard his music before, I recommend you start with this album. If you are already a fan, What We Hold Dear is one of those must-have albums for your collection. As I said earlier, Timothy has out-done himself on this album! Even if you do not buy this cd for yourself, let me suggest it to you as an excellent gift for that special someone in your life. They will find it absolutely romantic!
What We Hold Dear is the sixth solo album from composer and keyboardist, Timothy Wenzel. Comprised of twelve new age / contemporary instrumental pieces, Wenzel is once again joined by the talented violinist Josie Quick on most of the compositions, whose signature instrument and style of playing is an integral part of the soundscapes. Additionally, Jordan Schug plays cello on several pieces while Corin Nelsen mastered the album. Much of Wenzel’s music possesses a notable Celtic bent, while drum machines provide gentle backing rhythms on most of the compositions.
“Murmuration” opens the album with a softly elevating ensemble of cello, violin and keyboards that highlight a continuously flowing piano riff throughout, effectively recalling that of a horse and carriage riding along through hillside meadows. Conveying a mood that is gently uplifting yet peaceful, the rest of the album mostly follows in this mode, often noting the changing seasons and shifting landscapes of which Wenzel’s music largely conveys. One such example is “A Spring Day in Autumn”, an especially lovely piece and easily my favorite on the album. A violin enters accompanied by piano, where they’re soon joined by harpsichord and Celtic flute. Lending a distinct medieval or renaissance flair, the piece seemingly evokes images of a majestic castle in the mountainous mists. Also notable is the nocturnally alluring “Incantations”, which opens with a solemn cello juxtaposed with sparkling piano, as the piece gradually builds into a steadily rhythmic ensemble of violin and keyboard textures. The somewhat fantasy-like “Desert Dream” is another favorite, which opens with more classical-nuanced piano and Celtic flute. A pairing of strings underscored by subtle marching rhythm soon enter, as wordless soprano vocals courtesy of Sarah Joerz hover above the arrangement like an emerging angelic presence. The closing piece, “Turquoise Sky, Emerald Sea”, aptly conveys that of sailing across a calm sea on a sunny day, gently guided along by leisurely strumming guitar and a keyboard arrangement that places distinct melodic emphasis on the violin.
Often simultaneously evocative of the ancient British Isles and rural North America, What We Hold Dear is another satisfying offering from Timothy Wenzel that will appeal to many fans of Celtic, new age and contemporary instrumental music. Although his compositions tend to convey a similar feel to one another without expressing a whole lot of emotive range, his musical outputs are consistently lovely, always lending comfort, joy and peace with every listening experience!
"What We Hold Dear" is the seventh album from composer/ pianist/ keyboardist Timothy Wenzel. The first thing that grabs you about this album is the vibrant and dramatic cover artwork by Daniel Berard (original artwork) and Edson Moraes (colorization). Moraes has worked on several very distinctive and powerful album covers for Wenzel, and this one shows a mother and her two daughters holding each other in a field as a tornado approaches what we can assume is their farmhouse. The artwork beautifully illustrates Wenzel’s inspiration for the music: “One of the most important lessons in life is to learn to concentrate on what we have rather than what we don’t have.” He also says that the twelve compositions on the album reflect aspects of life that are especially meaningful to him. Wenzel’s previous full-time career was as a research scientist and he says that music and science have always been his two main passions. My thought was that they are so different, but Wenzel explains: “Scientific exploration is full of creativity and is very much like writing a song. In both cases you start with an idea and then explore the possibilities of where it can lead.”
Violinist Josie Quick (Perpetual Motion) appears on ten of the twelve tracks, providing depth and expression that synth strings just don’t have (yet). Jordan Schug plays cello on six pieces and Sarah Hoerz provides wordless vocals on one. Engineering wizard Corin Nelsen did the mastering, recorded the cello, and provided consultation. Wenzel composed all of the music, produced the album, played keyboards, and did the cover design and final artwork.
"What We Hold Dear" begins with “Murmuration” (a collective term for starlings). If you have ever seen thousands of starlings swirling in the air as a unit, you have witnessed this “dance of nature.” The tempo of the piece is unhurried and the music has a rural, open feeling - a great start! The title track continues the leisurely pace with sampled piano, flute and guitar leading the way through the poignant melody; violin and cello also add their magic to this beautiful piece - a favorite. “Appalachian Waters” is light and sparkling with a very peaceful vibe. “A Spring Day in Autumn” illustrates the idea of an older person suddenly able to experience his or her youth again, but with the perspective and experience that living for a long time can provide. Dreamy and nostalgic, the piece builds to a graceful cinematic sweep. “Hypnotized” is a gentle and tender love song for violin, piano, flute and guitar. “Moon Dance” is fairly slow, but the addition of light percussion makes it quite danceable. “In a Little While” is another favorite. Inspired by the sad and empty feelings of being away from loved ones, the song itself has mountain roots and comes from the heart. “On a Quiet Night” came about after a magical night of watching and photographing the Northern Lights.” Peaceful and shimmering, the music almost glows. Wenzel likes to close his albums with a soothing love song or lullaby, and he does just that with the calming rhythms of a quiet ocean in “Turquoise Sky, Emerald Sea.”
"What We Hold Dear" has started zooming up the charts, and rightly so! Recommended!
What Timothy Wenzel states is so true: “One of the most important lessons in life is to learn to concentrate on what we have rather than what we don’t have. As a reminder of that I titled my new album What We Hold Dear and each of the musical themes reflects various aspects of life that are especially meaningful to me.”
In January of this year I covered Perpetual Motion-RearView featuring a phenomenal violin player name Josie Quick. Timothy very wisely made Ms. Quick a part of his What We Hold Dear album as well as Jordan Schug, who was a great addition on Cello.
Timothy is a former scientist turned musician. That I would say is one of those paradigm shifts of life that immediately makes an impact on all concerned. Fortunately, those of us that enjoy contemporary music of the new age instrumental flavor, become the immediate benefactors of this enormous change one individual went through.
There is always a story behind the music. I have found over the years that ironically music without words has more depth and soul than most music with so called meaningful lyrics. Timothy solidly backs that statement with 12 tracks that capture you in the triangle of life - mind, body and soul. His keyboards lead the way while Josie and Jordan provide an excellent layer of exquisiteness. As with most music of this sort it has a strong foundation in classical that carves a path to other inroads, which becomes the contemporary new age instrumental sound that is the final product.
It takes patience and a natural gift to create and present music so close to heaven and our creator. My personal space is always ready to receive these wonderful gifts that recording artists such as Timothy give us.
Like a road to your destiny What We Hold Dear and the concept of that, can change with one listen to this music. There is a rhythm and cadence to each track that breathes life into a room. It is like a heartbeat you cannot physically hear or touch but you know it’s there pumping and giving you what you need. This is music that brings gratefulness and satisfaction with your surroundings, or should I say what you hold dear?
On the cover of this CD there is a storm off in the distance yet the sun is breaking through that storm, as you hang on to what you hold dear - family, friends, or a nice thought from the past or the day. If you have some sort of trouble or storm brewing inside remember that the truth and light can shine right through and clear skies are ahead. For me that is what the picture on the CD says and then the music plays the story out from track to track. Listen and find out what it means for you, that is the perfection and an invitation that great instrumental music can deliver.