CD: Snow Angel
Artist: Michele de Wilton

It’s been almost a year since I reviewed Michele’s excellent “Daydream” CD and I was happy to hear about her latest, and most timely release, “Snow Angel.” Timely in that having received it right around Thanksgiving, this is an album that is perfect for the holidays. However, what makes it special is that while there are indeed a number of traditional Christmas carols, the focus of the recording is actually the entire holiday season from Thanksgiving, through Christmas, and into the New Year. 


“Snow Angel” is Michele’s third album and features her signature style of solo piano that incorporates elements of classical, new age, and movie soundtrack music. While her early influences include Chopin and Mendelssohn, she is equally inspired by contemporary artists such as George Winston and Vangelis. However, from the first time she saw “Gone With The Wind” she became enamored with the art of film scoring, and it’s narrative ability to tell a story in sound – a quality she is adept at, and has received recognition for in her previous releases.

As mentioned, there are renditions of well-known Christmas carols, yet the album also includes a number of original compositions. One of those is the opening track, entitled “Thanks”, which pays homage to Thanksgiving. Michele was in the middle of working on her arrangements of classic Christmas songs when the idea for “Thanks” emerged and she decided to go with a winter-themed album that extended throughout the season. In keeping with the holiday spirit, Michele has been gracious enough to offer a free download of this song on her website. Listeners will also find a video there of “The Ice Maiden,” the bonus track on the CD.


Following from Thanksgiving are two traditional Christmas carols: “Angels We Have Heard On High” and “O Holy Night,” both beautifully rendered. Track 4 is “Snowfall” – another original composition that is said to “evoke imagery of a freshly-shaken snow globe with high notes signifying falling flakes of snow.” This is an apt description of this delicate and lovely piece. Other holiday classics include: “O Come Emmanuel,” “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen,”  “What Child Is This?,” “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing,” “Good King Wenceslas,” “ Winter Bloom,” “Silent Night,” and the New Year’s Eve favorite “Auld Lang Syne.” Michele imbues these songs with a heartfelt spirit that is joyful and enchanting. On some she stays closer to the original, while on others she approaches with a sense of adventure, giving free reign to her creativity.


However, one of my favorite aspects of this recording is the inclusion of a good number of original songs that compliment and blend perfectly with the classics, creating a lavish holiday musical feast. On “Waltz For Gerda and Kay,” a Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale forms the basis for this imaginative piece set in the ice palace of The Snow Queen. Similarly, her composition, “The Ice Maiden” draws inspiration from a frost goddess of Norse mythology. While these descriptions may evoke an icy air, the feeling they create is as cozy as a cup of cocoa by the fire.


The CD is attractively packaged, decked out in winter white, and includes a stunning cover photo by Brian Kuhlmann that perfectly captures the essence of the music. In Michele’s words: “Snow Angel speaks to the season.” I would add that it does so with eloquence and grace. This album would make an excellent gift and I’m sure will become a holiday favorite for many, both now and in the years to come.