George Winston: Forest

If you are looking for a New Age CD, I highly recommend Forest by George Winston.  Winston piano virtuosity is demonstrated with seven of his own compositions and a few more of his own arrangements.

Here is one Amazon review that is spot on.

"One of the things that set this album apart from George Winston's earlier work is his clear development away from pure textural complexity to an introspective style that relies on a certain sparseness to achieve its expressiveness. Several of the opening tracks – Tamarack Pines, Forbidden Forest, and Troubadour could not have fewer notes and still be music. This isn't a criticism, but an honest compliment to a class of musical genius that is deeply aware of its expressive intent.

Not that there aren't pieces that are reminiscent of Winston's previous work (Cradle, Cloudy This Morning, and Last Lullaby Here). But even these are presented without a lot of flurry, and have a light air that often echoes jazz rhythms and chordal work. Winston prefers to avoid the technical flash of composers like Jason Rudess, but prefers the musicality of theme and variations. This isn't because he is any less capable, his mastery of the instrument has been demonstrated too many times to be arguable. But overall, he is a stylist, rather than a virtuoso and, frankly, that suites me fine.

For variety, Winston servers up the aforementioned experiment of Tamarack Pines and the bluesy, stride sound of Graceful Ghost. Most listeners will quickly find favorites that bear repeated listening. Winston has crafted this album with considerable care, managing to create a sense of continuity that will often pick the listener up and deposit him or her several tracks later with no sense that time has ever passed. Even now, after listing to Forest for many years, I still find surprises in the music. Which is not always true in New Age work. Of course, Winston's music is what became New Age work – it's not the genre he is in, but the genre he helped create.

If you are looking for a place to start, for something that represents the best of a genre and the composer this is one of best albums you can buy. But whether you are an inquiring mine or an old hand, Forest is well worth the listening, and the listening, and the listening."