Review: Charles Szczepanek, Winter Day Dreaming

Charles Szczepanek, Winter Day Dreaming

30 Dec, 2013 Andrea Guy

There has probably never been another CD so appropriately named as Charles Szczepanek’s Winter Day Dreaming. This collection of instrumental holiday tunes will put anyone in a festive mood.

Winter Day Dreaming consists of nine holiday favorites played by Charles Szczepanek and two original compositions. This is the perfect addition to anyone’s holiday music collection. Solo piano brings a wintry element to the music. The tinkling of the keys seems to add a chill to the air.

Holiday music is something people love or hate. There’s no way that you can hate the music of Winter Day Dreaming. Though the songs are nearly all classics, there is nothing cheesy or gimmicky about the arrangements that Charles has done. These are just songs that everyone knows, stripped down to their barest, just a piano bringing their melodies to life.

Whether you are listening to “What Child Is This” or “O Holy Night” you’ll feel like you are in an intimate setting, perhaps in front of the tree, or the fire, with hot cocoa at hand. Whatever you visualize, you’ll probably feel the stillness and peacefulness of the music.

“O Holy Night” has a particularly quiet arrangement. This is a song that is usually comes with a full orchestra, and yet, Charles brings it down a notch or two. It is so calm and so soothing. The piano almost sounds like a music box playing.

“Silent Night” has a similar arrangement. It is hard to give words to the music that Charles has created. It is easy to string adjectives along, such as beautiful, stunning, gentle and calming, but those only touch the tip of what he’s done here.

“Silent Night” is now a lullaby and that is perfect when you think of the lyrics that you aren’t hearing. Even though they play through your head with each note.

Charles does a marvelous job with “Carol Of The Bells.” The keys ring out the tune, as lively as any bells could do and without fanfare. This is probably the most energetic melody on the album, especially as the melody reaches the crescendo.

“Snowfall” is one of Charles’ original compositions. The arrangement, like those on the traditional tunes, is one of lightness. This is music that is very visual. Without even knowing the title of the song, you can easily picture a blanket of white covering a country landscape and feel a bite of cold in the air.

“Winter Day Dreaming” has a lilting melody. It is easy to imagine this song in the background of a holiday film, probably a romantic comedy. It would be playing as the guy finally gets the girl.

One of the most beautiful songs found in this collection is “Angels We Have Heard On High.” As Charles’ fingers glide over the keys, it may be hard not to sing along with the melody, though the piano keys do some lovely singing of their own.  Charles has some drama and flair towards the end allowing the song to pack a nice punch.

The album closes with “Auld Lang Syne” which is appropriate. Christmas is over and the New Year is waiting. The solo piano seems to sound lonely sending off the old year.

In a world where big and flashy things are all the norm, Charles Szczerpanek delivers a holiday album that is just the opposite. This album is beautiful in all its simplicity. One man, one piano and eleven songs that will fill you with holiday spirit even in the middle of summer.

If you are looking for something that isn’t all glitz and glamour for your holiday music collection, Winter Day Dreaming is the CD you must have.

Review by Andrea Guy
Rating: 5 (out of 5 stars)