If you have followed the career of Darlene Koldenhoven, you already know that she is one of the most versatile and distinguished artists on the New Age music scene. Her piano debut The Grand Piano Spa, which was released in May, came as no surprise. It is a beautiful and emotive release that creates a spa-like atmosphere. But her upcoming album does so much more; it proves that she is a solo piano star in the making. Profoundly hopeful and inspiring, Legacy takes The Grand Piano Spa to incredible new heights.
Darlene Koldenhoven is an American soprano, pianist/keyboardist, songwriter, arranger, composer, lyricist, record producer, author, actor, international voice teacher, and sonic therapist. You have heard her voice in everything from “Yanni, Live at the Acropolis” to “Sister Act.” Beginning with the most recent, The Grand Piano Spa (5/14/21) won the Gold Medal Best Classical Crossover Composer from the Global Music Awards (8/8/21) and in May, Akademia Award’s Best Classical Album. Chromatones debuted #1 on the New Age Guide Charts (6/20/18,) won Gold in Visionary Music, and took the 2019 Music of the Year from COVR Coalition of Visionary Resources. Color Me Home debuted #1 on the ZMR radio charts worldwide in 2017; the broadcasters voted it “Best Vocal Album 2017” at the ZMR Awards in New Orleans 2018.
The opening track on The Grand Piano Spa: Legacy is called Radiance. Each note is like a ray of light, illuminating the whole album. Its optimistic and carefree vibe is infectious. I also like how Koldenhoven throws darker colors into the mix and almost stops before continuing, making the presentation so much more interesting. Radiance is a magnificent album opener! The first time I heard it, I found myself putting it on replay, unwilling to go on. It is that good.
The next piece, Lucidity, expands the atmosphere of comfort and joy. It is a brilliant composition that will brighten even the darkest of days. It is four minutes long, but I don’t know where that time went; Spa heaven is just within reach.
It is easy to focus on the album’s serene and relaxing qualities, but right under the surface are interesting and enthralling elements that give the album high replay value. Listen to Migration, and you will understand what I am talking about. It is, for the lack of a better description, as complex as you want it to be. That is, for me, a hallmark of great art.
Talking about serene and relaxing qualities, Sweet Conversations always puts me in a good mood. The piece flows effortlessly like talk among good friends. I love the high note ending, too; the conversation is over for now, but it will continue sometime soon. This is not goodbye.
The perhaps finest piece on The Grand Piano Spa: Legacy is Love Eternal. It has a hint of Clair de Lune by Claude Debussy, describing a mature and faithful love. It is a piece you feel as much as you hear, perhaps because eternal love is a concept we all understand and cherish. Glaciers takes the album in a new direction, slow and contemplative. I enjoy its artistic vibe that seems to capture the truth about one of nature’s most majestic structures, from the insignificant snowflake to the giant structure that can form the shape even mountains.
Moonlight has inspired artists since the dawn of time. Moonlight Minuet is a meditative piece that twists and turns in new and surprising ways. Take my word for it; it is impossible to tell where this is going to end. The conclusion is magnificent!
Some piano music is made for the background, and some will need your undivided attention. The elegant, complex, and almost six minutes long Black Swan demands to be the center of attention. It is tracks like this that make The Grand Piano Spa: Legacy into an almost perfect release.
The ending is introspective and philosophical. The everchanging Cumulus takes the mind on a high-flying adventure before the album goes in for a landing with Ancient Forest. The giant trees feel close enough to touch. It is an incredibly soothing experience.
In conclusion: There is no shortage of solo piano albums out there. New titles are released every day. But to me, Darlene Koldenhoven’s The Grand Piano Spa series is different – and especially Legacy. Here her abilities as a pianist and composer are in full bloom. Koldenhoven’s music is universally accessible, easygoing, and filled with interesting and moving tableaus. It can transform a gray day into a full spa experience simply by listening. If you don’t believe me, close your eyes, and your mind will get the premium treatment.
Darlene Koldenhoven is a star singer, star actor, and star performer. Now she can add piano star to that list. And that part of her career is just starting!
For more information and music samples, visit darlenekoldenhoven.com.