NOMINATED BEST CONTEMPORARY INSTRUMENTAL ALBUM 2017   ” - Zone Music Reporter

Zone Music Reporter

The cover art of Timothy Wenzel's latest offering, What We Hold Dear makes his theme quite obvious. In the background a vicious tornado is about to destroy an old farm house, thunder beams are all around, and nothing can save it. In the foreground is a mother with her arms around her children. I can imagine her saying, "It's only a house. We have each other." Family, friends, loved ones, truth, patience, forgiveness, they're all here in Timothy's music as are seasons, stars, and lots of sky. Timothy Wenzel, when not playing atmospheric keyboards and composing, is a scientist. Like any good musician, however, he puts in science to work, taking his cues from the natural world all around him. 'What We Hold Dear' is 12 tracks of ambient/contemporary music layered in emotion and blended into rich, lyrical instrumentals.With a skillful sweeping violin intro by Josie Quick, Timothy offers his first cut called Murmuration. There are many meanings to the word murmuration; heart sounds, low speaking tones, a sound that the water or winds make. The one connotation that comes to my mind is watching a flock of a million starlings playing dot-to-dot in a dusky sky. That is a murmuration. Millions of separate entities come together and act as one. Such is the sentiment of Timothy Wenzel's first track. Piano and flute dance in the sky of the mind, gyrating, soaring, and gliding as they make sketches that only the heart can imagine. No flutter of wing here, only the pure sound of harmony.What We Hold Dear is a song of family, of love and about the emotional strands that bind them together. The music resonates with the love and warmth of that mother embracing her children on the cover art. It gives voice to all the other little things that are unsaid, sometimes unnoticed but yet are a big part of how we love. The long commute every weekday. The hard work in the blazing sun. The late nights when we'd really like to be home, but they're depending on us. That is what we hold most dear.Wenzel sometimes gravitates into the world of Celtic music and the tune, A Spring Day in Autumn is one such departure. To some, the title might be perplexing, but I understand it perfectly. There are days, and frankly, I've just experienced one, where the day before it was sunny and balmy. But the next day it feels like the leaves are all gone, and the last vestiges of the sun's warmth remains. Hiding just around the corner might be old man winter. It is a day of shirt sleeves and celebration. Quick's accents with her violin make the mood nostalgic while Wenzel's piano begs for just a little more warmth. Jordan Schug's cello deftly opens the tune Incantations. This is one of Wenzel's more serious pieces, with a brooding score. It is a swaying, mesmerizing score. Words unheard are aimed at the heavens, as an atmospheric entreaty. Incantations, prayers, and chants can all do wonders if they are accompanied by enough faith.On A Quiet Night is one of my favorites on the album. It translates musically into everything that I like. A black sky with a starry display, the warmth of midsummer and the sense of peace it entails. The piano is the lead in this ballad and the song conjures up nocturnal dreams of serenity. Listening to this many times, I felt I was experiencing the night in a unique manner. I was alone, but not the one there. You have to hear this otherworldly tune to understand, but you will.The last track is called Turquoise Sky, Emerald Sea. It is one of the more complex tunes on the recording and one of the best. The orchestration is well balanced and melodical as Timothy dives into the sea of imagination. Over many parts of the planet there are green seas, Belize, Spain, Italy and several more. Every one is a special place, a place of magic and wonder. So how could the skies there be anything else but turquoise? Wenzel's music reminds us to enjoy these places and enjoy the special moments that they create.Timothy Wenzel has just the right phrasing for the journey of passion he has produced. His mixture of the natural world and the emotional world seems to blend seamlessly into a work that is listenable at any given time. His instrumentals are focused, inviting, but most of all, expressive.” - RJ Lannan

Zone Music Reporter

It seems that I have been on a long journey with the artist, he first came into my musical life with a Coalescence of Dreams back in 2012 and after riding with a Distant Horseman, I am once more at the gates of a realm described by the musician as, What We Hold Dear.The release contains the wonderful violinist Josie Quick, Jordan Schug (cello) and Sarah Joerz (vocals). So once more let’s tread the musical path and gaze up at an astounding sight called a Murmuration. This first track gives Wenzel a fine opportunity to ground us in the new concept of the album, I have only seen this occurrence once, a flock of birds drifted in a dance like quality across the mountain range at the back of my home, it was both stunning to watch, very fluid and certainly dance like in performance, and that exactly describes the opener by the artist.That proud moment of the title track is up next, I was already impressed by the album cover, depicting perhaps a family holding each other while a tornado is about to destroy their home, or is there more here, listen to the song, What We Hold Dear.We have a very emotive and deeply moving track that you can feel the sadness way down in your heart, but there is one facet that shines through, and that’s hope, a beautiful haunting performance by Wenzel and an emotionally charged one by Cellist Jordan Schug (cello). In my personal opinion, I rate this to be one of the best pieces I have ever heard from the musician.We now move onto a completely different tune for us to enjoy, as we go on a mountain trail to the Appalachian Waters. Here is a piece that has a real organic quality about its construction, almost folk like at times, a sun kissed walk through the woods in music, as we follow the birth of a mountain spring into a fully grown river.Ascension is up next, the tempo slows down to an almost dream like quality and it seems we are gifted the opportunity through this piece to rise above our lives and look down at the progress from above. The lightness of this composition and the very smooth performance from the artist give me the feeling of an Ariel flight. Note the change of intent around half way through the piece; it’s both clever and mesmeric.On the arrangement A Spring Day in Autumn, we have an intriguing number, one that appears sullen at times, then transforms into a re-energized motif, the piece seems to have that sense of interplay that runs through the composition constantly. The performance reminds me a little of composer Holland Phillips in style, and for me this is another clever track, we seem to go from dark to light, from walking to dancing, a completely fascinating piece.We find ourselves dear reader at the half way juncture, at this crossroads we come across a track called Hypnotized. This could be the theme for a love song, this could be something so beautiful it’s dangerous, we must ask ourselves one more thing, is this what we hold dear? A beautiful performance by Wenzel, the keyboards here are played with certain fluency and confidence, and the slight percussive beat and tempo adds an extra layer of fun to the composition.Now for a piece that builds and adds layer upon layer of musical genius, it’s called Incantations. The flute, keyboards and Cello re-invent themselves, like a spell being cast and weaving its re-created patterns of awareness whilst doing so. The performances by Jordan Schug (cello) and Quick on violin is simply and utterly sublime.There is a real childlike, wondrous eyes wide open feel about this one; the piece is called Moon Dance, no not the Van Morrison song. Here Josie Quick partner of Tom Carleno (Perpetual Motion) creates a silver lit dance of the dark hours, one that manifests with Wenzel’s keyboards, an almost fairy ring of a composition.There is something a little dark about this next piece, it’s called In a Little While. The tentative nature of this arrangement is rooted in a reflective moment of time. Wenzel’s style and creative cleverness here seems to have manifested a track that has a real defined need, a musical yearning of a wish to be complete again perhaps?We’re now very deep within the weave of the release dear constant reader, and as such a new composition called On a Quiet Night is now upon us. This is another one of my favourites from the new release, it’s slow, but perfectly played arrangement caught my emotional attention. A sense of peace can be found here, but there is also something a little Celtic about its construction as well, that for me added a whole new layer to what is a really tranquil, but colourful song.Our penultimate offering is called Desert Dream and yet another favourite of mine, there are many it seems. Here is a powerful piece that grows and coalesces. The guitar strum and flute added to the depth, and then the violin and percussion created a sense of shift in tempo. There is a real sense of a Lord of the Rings style performance here, especially when the ethereal vocals of Sarah Joerz joins the dance.I wonder now where that time went, I gaze at my computer and note dear listener that we have arrived at the last piece on the album, and it’s called Turquoise Sky, Emerald Sea. A gentle and smooth piece to end with and that’s always good. Quicks Violin is memory filled and a more dream like peace filled offering you could not wish to find, to end the album with.What we Hold Dear is another fine example of the very best of contemporary instrumental music, it’s an album rich in colourful performances and composition, the creative mastery with which this album has been brought into life with is blissful to behold, and on this new offering Timothy Wenzel has manifested a piece for every mood, for every emotion, in times past, present and future, your next step dear reader, is to add this slice of musical brilliance to your ever expanding collection, you will not be disappointed.” - Steve Sheppard

One World Music Radio

This album came as a complete surprise to me! If you are already a fan, or have purchased some of Timothy Wenzel’s past releases, you may feel as if you know what to expect with his albums. This set of songs is different. I wager that you, as I was, will be totally surprised by this release. It not only met my expectations, but it exceeded them. After listening to What We Hold Dear from beginning-to-end, I have come to the conclusion that, in this collection of songs, Timothy has out-done even himself! I think this album has that extra little zing to it because of the string section. The players on this cd are simply masterful at bringing to life the sounds and melodies that must have been lurking around in Timothy’s head and heart. I must warn you, however, that after listening to this album a few times, you will find yourself humming certain haunting melodies to yourself and then wondering, “Where did that come from?” Then the next time you listen to the album you will say, “Oh, that’s where that tune came from. The melody came from What We Hold Dear.” Like all great music, these melodies stay with you. They sound oh so familiar; even though, they are totally new to this world. They just seem familiar because they came from the zeitgeist. This is the reason Timothy’s music is so hard to classify. It seems to come from the spirit of this age. Timothy’s music is definitely the music of our time, but what should we call it? Is it classical? Is it New Age? Is it Celtic? One cannot just put a label on to any of Timothy’s works. I predict: In 100-years or less, Timothy’s music will be considered the classical music of the 2,000’s. If you have never heard his music before, I recommend you start with this album. If you are already a fan, What We Hold Dear is one of those must-have albums for your collection. As I said earlier, Timothy has out-done himself on this album! Even if you do not buy this cd for yourself, let me suggest it to you as an excellent gift for that special someone in your life. They will find it absolutely romantic!” - William Mills

Amazon Review

What We Hold Dear is the seventh album from composer/ pianist/ keyboardist Timothy Wenzel. The first thing that grabs you about this album is the vibrant and dramatic cover artwork by Daniel Berard (original artwork) and Edson Moraes (colorization). Moraes has worked on several very distinctive and powerful album covers for Wenzel, and this one shows a mother and her two daughters holding each other in a field as a tornado approaches what we can assume is their farmhouse. The artwork beautifully illustrates Wenzel’s inspiration for the music: “One of the most important lessons in life is to learn to concentrate on what we have rather than what we don’t have.” He also says that the twelve compositions on the album reflect aspects of life that are especially meaningful to him. Wenzel’s previous full-time career was as a research scientist and he says that music and science have always been his two main passions. My thought was that they are so different, but Wenzel explains: “Scientific exploration is full of creativity and is very much like writing a song. In both cases you start with an idea and then explore the possibilities of where it can lead.” Violinist Josie Quick (Perpetual Motion) appears on ten of the twelve tracks, providing depth and expression that synth strings just don’t have (yet). Jordan Schug plays cello on six pieces and Sarah (Joerz) provides wordless vocals on one. Engineering wizard Corin Nelsen did the mastering, recorded the cello, and provided consultation. Wenzel composed all of the music, produced the album, played keyboards, and did the cover design and final artwork. What We Hold Dear begins with “Murmuration” (a collective term for starlings). If you have ever seen thousands of starlings swirling in the air as a unit, you have witnessed this “dance of nature.” The tempo of the piece is unhurried and the music has a rural, open feeling - a great start! The title track continues the leisurely pace with sampled piano, flute and guitar leading the way through the poignant melody; violin and cello also add their magic to this beautiful piece - a favorite. “Appalachian Waters” is light and sparkling with a very peaceful vibe. “A Spring Day in Autumn” illustrates the idea of an older person suddenly able to experience his or her youth again, but with the perspective and experience that living for a long time can provide. Dreamy and nostalgic, the piece builds to a graceful cinematic sweep. “Hypnotized” is a gentle and tender love song for violin, piano, flute and guitar. “Moon Dance” is fairly slow, but the addition of light percussion makes it quite danceable. “In a Little While” is another favorite. Inspired by the sad and empty feelings of being away from loved ones, the song itself has mountain roots and comes from the heart. “On a Quiet Night” came about after a magical night of watching and photographing the Northern Lights.” Peaceful and shimmering, the music almost glows. Wenzel likes to close his albums with a soothing love song or lullaby, and he does just that with the calming rhythms of a quiet ocean in “Turquoise Sky, Emerald Sea.” What We Hold Dear has started zooming up the charts, and rightly so! It is available from Amazon, iTunes, and CD Baby. Recommended!” - Kathy Parsons

Mainly Piano

Beautiful keyboards emerge out of the silence in this latest album from the renowned Timothy Wenzel, in the track Murmuration, capturing in sound the dance of Starlings as they swirl on the currents, creating a dance of pure beauty and enjoyment. With this album Wenzel steps back a little and creates special pieces for many of the things he holds dear in his life. He is joined on ten of the twelve tracks by violinist Josie Quick, who has worked with Wenzel on an earlier album, cellist Jordan Shug who adds a lovely resonance to many of the tracks and Sarah Joerz who lends her beautiful vocalisation to Desert Dream, a composition created from a feeling of deep, mysterious spiritual rights being undertaken by a tribe in the Southwestern dessert; beautiful, haunting and mysterious. A Spring Day in Autumn is about contemplating experiencing the many facets of youth again through the eyes of experience; a bit like what would you tell your 16 year old self looking back! The timbre is reflective, the style almost ancient with the clever use of piano and strings in the composition giving the piece a lovely, otherworldly, feel. Moon Dance is a deliciously light creation there to encourage everyone to take some time in life to dance in the moonlight, be bathed in the reflective glory and enjoy the timelessness moment, never to be repeated again. While on the essence of life Hypnotised is all about falling in love, feeling that hypnotic pull towards another human as you walk slowly, or run madly, towards the most important person in your life. Throughout the album, the weeping of the violin adds a delicious mystique to many of the pieces, almost a gypsy-like tone to several others. If you listen closely, especially to Moon Dance, where, in the vision of the mind, you can almost see the campfires and the slow dancing unfold. On A Quiet Night is reminiscent of those times when you are outdoors, somewhere in the world, far away from the madding crowd, where you can hear forever; hear the sound of the earth turning, the world settling, peaceful and beautiful. Ending with the delightfully reflective Turquoise Sky, Emerald Moon, Wenzel sums up the entire breadth and depth of the album as you are encouraged to slow down, take a minute to listen, to look and to enjoy the bounty that is there to behold; to remember once again that regardless of what in life comes your way it is always timely to discover once again, the things that are precious to each and every one, to rediscover the ‘things we hold dear’. Once again an album full of inspiration.” - Janet Mawdesley

Blue Wolf Reviews

What We Hold Dear is the sixth solo album from composer and keyboardist, Timothy Wenzel. Comprised of twelve new age / contemporary instrumental pieces, Wenzel is once again joined by the talented violinist Josie Quick on most of the compositions, whose signature instrument and style of playing is an integral part of the soundscapes. Additionally, Jordan Schug plays cello on several pieces while Corin Nelsen mastered the album. Much of Wenzel’s music possesses a notable Celtic bent, while drum machines provide gentle backing rhythms on most of the compositions. “Murmuration” opens the album with a softly elevating ensemble of cello, violin and keyboards that highlight a continuously flowing piano riff throughout, effectively recalling that of a horse and carriage riding along through hillside meadows. Conveying a mood that is gently uplifting yet peaceful, the rest of the album mostly follows in this mode, often noting the changing seasons and shifting landscapes of which Wenzel’s music largely conveys. One such example is “A Spring Day in Autumn”, an especially lovely piece and easily my favorite on the album. A violin enters accompanied by piano, where they’re soon joined by harpsichord and Celtic flute. Lending a distinct medieval or renaissance flair, the piece seemingly evokes images of a majestic castle in the mountainous mists. Also notable is the nocturnally alluring “Incantations”, which opens with a solemn cello juxtaposed with sparkling piano, as the piece gradually builds into a steadily rhythmic ensemble of violin and keyboard textures. The somewhat fantasy-like “Desert Dream” is another favorite, which opens with more classical-nuanced piano and Celtic flute. A pairing of strings underscored by subtle marching rhythm soon enter, as wordless soprano vocals courtesy of Sarah Joerz hover above the arrangement like an emerging angelic presence. The closing piece, “Turquoise Sky, Emerald Sea”, aptly conveys that of sailing across a calm sea on a sunny day, gently guided along by leisurely strumming guitar and a keyboard arrangement that places distinct melodic emphasis on the violin. Often simultaneously evocative of the ancient British Isles and rural North America, What We Hold Dear is another satisfying offering from Timothy Wenzel that will appeal to many fans of Celtic, new age and contemporary instrumental music. Although his compositions tend to convey a similar feel to one another without expressing a whole lot of emotive range, his musical outputs are consistently lovely, always lending comfort, joy and peace with every listening experience!” - Candice Michelle

Journeyscapes Radio Blog and Review

Keyboardist Timothy Wenzel has perennially featured fetching cover artworks providing potential consumers a pictorially broad clue as to what they were in for, whether a matter of pastorals or cosmic wonderment. Last year’s Distant Horseman almost seemed to be taken from the comix magazine Heavy Metal (Metal Hurlant in Europe), a superb painting of a lone rider amid a gorgeous desert scene reminiscent of both Mars and the Utah red-rocks wilderness.This year, however, things have turned a bit apocalyptic, What We Hold Dear‘s cover is a scene from the terrifying section of Wizard of Oz where the might of Nature in the form of an all-consuming tornado bore down on Dorothy, Auntie Em, and anything not composed of irresistible power, threatening destruction to the bucolic day and its biological denizens, reducing everything to splinters. In What We Hold Dear, a mother and her two children hold one another as lightning and a tornado sweep across an all too near horizon. What their fate may be, we cannot say, but the implications to the disc’s title are clear.There has often been a laconic beauty to Wenzel’s compositions. They’re chamber miniatures within the progrock/New Age genre and thus the sometimes lush, sometimes spare atmospheres dripping with Romanticism and gentle gravity. Dear is not so much what it might seem to portend, a response to the onrushing calamities of global climate change, but rather entertains what lies athwart that: loss, the sudden departure of precious elements within our lives. The moody ambiences of Dear harken us back to thoughtfulness, to contemplations of both the larger picture and of that we hold most intimate.Now, as to how Wenzel obtained those striking guitar chord strums and finger-pickings throughout Dear, I haven’t a clue. Synthesizers must lately have become much more refined than I know. I have a Roland Jupiter 6, still one of the best synths of its time (1983), and there is no way I could have called up a patch even vaguely close to that, nor could Robert Fripp or Vangelis, both of whom own a JP-6. Regardless, Josie Quick is back again with Tim, along with cellist Jordan Schug, and the two add immeasurably to all cuts, singer Sarah Joerz favoring “Desert Dream” with angelic melisma floating above Wenzel and Schug.Let me tell you, though, the paradox of Timothy Wenzel. Though a productive musician of many years, he started his professional life as a scientist for Union Carbide (now Praxair) and holds a BS in Chemistry and a Masters and PhD in Physical Organic Chemistry at Cornell. He in fact managed to discover a way that two polymers could “talk” with one another in what turned out to be a major discovery. My, my, my…sometimes, these quiet pacific guys have a much more powerful set of brainworks on ‘em than we guess at, though the subtleties of their artistry grin and whisper to those attentive enough to catch the interface.” - Mark Tucker

— Veritas Vampirus

If music that's soul-soothing, peaceful, and free of turmoil and angst qualifies as New Age, then Timothy Wenzel's certainly qualifies, at least insofar as What We Hold Dear can be regarded as representative of the keyboardist-composer's style. Though piano is central to the album's dozen pieces, Wenzel's joined on many of them by violinist Josie Quick and cellist Jordan Schug, plus vocalist Sarah Joerz on one. The composer enhances those core elements with other sounds, too, among them woodwinds, guitars, bass, drums, and percussion. It's interesting how often childhood interests persist into adulthood. As boy, Wenzel split his time between playing the piano and enjoying nature, and consistent with that much of the music on the present release is informed by his love for the outdoors and preoccupation with natural phenomena such as the Aurora Borealis. Some things do change, however, as life advances, among them musical taste. With age, Wenzel's gravitated away from the rock and prog of Led Zeppelin, Jethro Tull, The Moody Blues, and U2 to the New Age and Celtic sounds of George Winston, Clannad, Enya, and others. As much as What We Hold Dear lends itself to contemplation, it's not without its animated moments. The opening “Murmuration,” for example, moves with the earthy elegance of a country dance, with piano, acoustic guitar, flute, and violin operating in tandem to give the material rhythmic propulsion; further to that, the writing reflects Wenzel's appreciation for Celtic music. Here and elsewhere (“Moon Dance” and “In a Little While,” two examples of many), a subdued drum pattern is included to bolster the music's forward momentum. More characteristic of the album's tone is the title track, whose coupling of flute, piano, and strings presents some its prettiest and serene moments. Wenzel's appreciation for nature comes through clearly in a pastoral reverie such as “Appalachian Waters,” with its folk tone and an arrangement for acoustic guitar, flute, and piano that's as clear as upper mountain air. There's uplift aplenty but sadness, too, as illustrated by “In a Little While,” whose yearning tone amplifies the melancholy that comes from being separated from family and friends. As one listens to the album, whatever resistance one might have to the New Age label should be put on hold: New Age it might be, but What We Hold Dear is also music of sophistication, deep feeling, and genuine character.” - Textura

Textura

New age music fans say Timothy Wenzel recordings are what we hold dear I guess everyone has different things that they hold dear in life. For his sixth solo album, musician Timothy Wenzel made a list of the things that he holds dear -- people, music, nature, our world, spirituality, dreams, special places and water -- and used them as inspiration for the music. Can’t argue with that. Someone else might put movies, sports or a good bottle of wine or their list, but that would be their list. But inspiration aside, how the heck does the music sound (you might ask)? If you like quality instrumental new age music with numerous different instruments featured, you have come to the right place. Wenzel uses his main instrument, piano, to set up the melodies in most of his tunes, and then he uses synthesizer to call up a wealth of other instrument sounds (guitar, flute, strings, bass, percussion and more) to broaden the music into an ensemble sound like weaving an expensive and expansive tapestry. But does he stop there? Oh, no. Then he brings in violinist Josie Quick on ten of the twelve pieces, and cellist Jordan Schug on six tunes. This livens up the music since each musician brings their expertise to the table, and allows a certain amount of back-and-forth action between them. Granted Quick contributes more lead lines and up-front sounds than Schug, but both add a richness and depth to the music. Some highlights include “In A Little While” (flute and delicate piano plus violin and light drums), the spiritual “Ascension” (nice blend of cello, bass and guitar), and “A Spring Day in Autumn” (strong piano alongside violin and cello). “Desert Dream” includes some vocalizing by Sarah Joerz (so the album is not entirely instrumental, as I mentioned earlier). Wenzel has a knack for creating appealing new age-styled music. If you like new age music, grab this one. ” - Lillian

Magle International Music Forums

Talk about music that makes a stunning visual impact! Wenzel reaches back for the vibe and sound that broke Windham Hill open into a mass market phenom as he ventures this time into the sound and feelings that comes about in the aftermath of upheaval when you see that what matters and that what counts is intact. A well textured outing that gives you a feeling of calm after the upheaval passes, this is a smart work that feeling people will have room for in their collections. Tasty stuff from a keyboard ace that is not noodling around.” - CHRIS SPECTOR

Midwest Record