Reviews of WITHIN MEMORY by Michael Debbage and Kathy Parsons:
2010/ Heart Earth Music
"If you gently and gracefully stir equal parts of classical and new age music and sprinkle it with melancholy moods then this would be the essential ingredients needed to spend an hour in the musical world of pianist Craig Urquhart. Within Memory represents his seventh solo piano album and much like its prior recordings Craig continues to present his unique meditative musical compositions that are not immediately gratifying but nevertheless richly rewarding. That said, without compromising his unique styleWithin Memory may be Craig’s most accessible album to date.
The disc opens with the rather playful and open “In The Afternoon” and similar moods can be on found “Rapture” “October Bright Blue”. Sprinkled and well sequenced throughout the album they peacefully coexist with the more demanding compositions such as the lengthy and moody “Low Tide” or the plaintive “Before The Canvas” more in line with what we have come to expect from Craig. And then there is the standalone track “Laid Back” that fits neither of the above camps that has an underlying jazz ambience to it that only leaves you craving for more.
Equally confident in classical, new age and jazz settings, this piano man not only plays but softly caresses his songs and continues to create music that is enduring instead of being immediately satisfying. In a world that demands instant gratification Craig Urquhart may never be a huge commercial success. But Craig has always marched to his own uncompromising drum which only makes Within Memory another impressive addition to his ever growing repertoire."
"Craig Urquhart has one of the smoothest and gentlest touches of any pianist I’m aware of. He truly personifies Debussy’s instruction to play the piano as if it didn’t have hammers. While Urquhart’s music is not complicated or flashy, his velvet touch and the depth of the emotion he expresses put him into a category of his own. Urquhart has very extensive classical training and was Leonard Bernstein’s personal assistant for the last five years of the maestro’s life. Of Urquhart’s music, Bernstein wrote: “It has a deceptive simplicity and honesty that is rarely to be heard in contemporary writing. His tonal approach is not merely sincere, but genuinely moving with a private beauty of its own.” Within Memory is Urquhart’s eighth album to date, and it contains some of his most evocative music. The relatively slow tempo of the music gives the album a consistency that makes it work as background music, but the music so deserves to be heard with full attention - perhaps with eyes closed in a darkened room without distractions. The memories depicted in the music are deeply personal yet universal, so listening to Urquhart’s recollections is much like having a very soulful conversation with a loved one.
Within Memory begins with “In the Afternoon,” a piece that overflows with contentment and warmth. The conversational melody conveys something familiar. “The Garden” is one of my favorites. Gently flowing and oh so graceful, it creates a lovely portrait of the serenity of being in a beautiful garden. I absolutely love “Before the Canvas.” Darker, more introspective, and deeply passionate, it seems to flow from the very core of Urquhart’s being. Stunning! “Laid Back” goes in a little different direction. Hinting of Erik Satie and George Gershwin, there are touches of modern classical minimalism blended with soulful blues - and it really works! “October Bright Blue” is a celebration of an autumn day in the Northeast - warm, crisp, and carefree. “Low Tide” is another favorite. Slow and meandering like the movement of water in tide pools and along the shore, it quietly and gracefully tells its story while soothing the soul of the listener. “Prairie Flowers” is in constant motion like a meadow of wildflowers moving to the rhythms of a gentle breeze. The title song is gorgeous, caressing your thoughts and memories as you reflect on and relive moments of your life.
Within Memory is a masterpiece of quiet, soulful piano solos. Craig Urquhart’s many fans will embrace this new music, and if you have not heard Craig’s music before, this is a wonderful place to start!Within Memory is available from www.craigurquhart.com, Amazon, CD Baby, and iTunes. Very highly recommended!"