Rick Wakeman

Preludes to a Century

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The instrumental albums of the latter half of Wakeman's career have tended to be divided between piano albums and synth-driven efforts. Although the rather unexciting synth of "White Rock II" came out around the same time as this release, "Preludes" shows that Wakeman is still keeping his lushly Romantic piano chops in fine order. "Preludes" is certainly among his better piano efforts, and is much in the same vein as the "Heritage Suite" or, even closer still, the pensive work on his "Airs" trilogy. It helps, too, that Wakeman got off the Isle of Man to record this one; the engineering is a clear improvement over many other efforts from the last decade. The lovely lilting opening track, "Prelude to a Millenium," and the brittle ascending scales of "Reflections of a Winter's Day" alone should guarantee this album a permanent place in the Wakeman canon.

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