Portraits of Colorado/Denler

March 3, 2014


portraits of colorado 001

During the course of a month there are many CD’s that are sent to me for listening and possible review. When I opened this one I immediately became intrigued because it was a new composer, a work about Colorado paintings, and performed by the Colorado Symphony. Speaking to Charles Denler I found that he was self taught with no formal training but spends an hour every day studying the works of composers. I can assure you that the sound you’ll hear is melodic, well orchestrated and arranged to make your listening experience easy on the ears. This is the second composer, the other being Rikard Borggard, in less than a month who is self taught. Both are extremely talented.

Commissioned by the Colorado Symphony each of the ten movements tells a story about a painting as well as the time Charles spends in the Rocky Mountains.  Some of the paintings by Jerry Malzahn, five of them, are included in the liner booklet. In addition to the symphonic portion there are also six variations for piano and violin to complete the 44+ minute CD. It starts with ”Rocky Mountain Odyssey,” the longest movement and a majestic trumpet is featured throughout with string motifs, some which sound like Copland, nicely interwoven with piano and flute. Choosing the trumpet to lead the orchestra depicts the majesty of Colorado and the Rocky Mountains. As Denler explained in the liner notes our music tastes today are playlists that fall into the three to five minute range and this is the reasoning for the basic structure of this work.”Where the Wild Horses Run” offers nearly the same trumpet call as in “Rocky Mountain Odyssey” with a rising majestic conclusion. In between there are some long piano lines with a strong backing from the horn section. “A Walk in the White Forest” somewhat reminds me of something that Copland might have done with the Denler style. He makes excellent use of the French Horns and trombone in this segment. He nicely sums up the work with a reprise and finale in movement 10 “Mountain Odyssey.” The style and mood shifts for the next tracks as they are written for piano and violin. These variations are built around the main theme that you heard in the opening movement. It is calm and peaceful making the end of your day relaxing.

This is a work that you can listen to as background music or concentrate and try to listen for the different variations of the basic theme. Well recorded and performed this would be a nice addition to your collection. I just found out at the time of this writing that Charles is going to write a theme for the Colorado Rockies baseball team. Stay tuned for more.

Portraits of Colorado, An American Symphony

1.        Rocky Mountain Odyssey (4:51)

2.        The Sangre de Cristos (3:08)

3.        A Walk in the Forest (2:12)

4.        Where Wild Horses Run (3:07)

5.        The Dance (1:53)

6.        Ranch in the Highlands (2:55)

7.        Sunset Over Longs Peak (2:06)

8.        Moment at Dawn (2:00)

9.        The Columbine’s Tribute (2:43)

10.       Mountain Odyssey, reprise with finale (3:47)

Six Variations for piano and violin

11.       Colorado Portraits (2:34)

12.       Moment at Dawn (2:12)

13.       Vivet I (2:29)

14.       A Walk at Sunrise (3:09)

15.       A Glimpse of Longs Peak (2:06)

16.       The White Forest, freshly falling snow (2:45)

Total Time 44:03


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