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George Winston - Spring Carousel / Mainly Piano review

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Of the iconic pianists of the past 35-40 years, I'm sure George Winston is one of the first that comes to most people's minds. If you ask many contemporary solo pianists who their primary influences are, Winston is almost always mentioned. I discovered George Winston, Yanni, Suzanne Ciani, and David Lanz a few years after I started teaching piano lessons in 1981. What a wonderful discovery it was to find these incredible artists who were creating new piano music that was accessible and exciting, bringing the piano actively back into the public's awareness. I saw George Winston in concert several times at Davies Symphony Hall in San Francisco and loved that he performed in this formal setting in his jeans, flannel shirt and no shoes. Although his name is one of the first to come up in discussions of "new age" piano, Winston has insisted for decades that his style is "folk" or "rural folk" piano and has nothing to do with the spiritual connotations of "new age" anything. 

As a reviewer, so much new music has come across my desk over the past several years, that I hadn't really thought about how long it had been since George Winston had released a new album (almost seven years), so it was a real shock to learn that he composed the music for Spring Carousel while recovering from a bone marrow transplant in 2012 and 2013 at City of Hope in Southern CA. Winston has recorded and released several benefit albums over the years, and the proceeds from this one will directly benefit City of Hope National Medical Center. While he recovered from the transplant surgery, Winston spent his time at the piano in the hospital auditorium every night. The fifteen tracks on this album were selected from 59 recorded pieces that Winston composed at City of Hope in early 2013. This is his fourteenth solo piano album.