Before early 1995 - shortly after this album had been released - I had never listened to any of Paul Winter's music, believing that most critics and music reviewers were correct in categorizing his output under the New Age rubric. New Age music held no interest for me; by the mid 80's, a full decade before discovering this album, I had by then my fill of "feel-good noodlings." How wrong one can be in taking these critics and reviewers at their word regarding such classification!
"Prayer for the Wild Things" is serious music with a purpose, something very different from one's notion of New Age music. Coming from the classical side of music, I was immediately struck by how sections of "Prayer" brought to mind some of the best of mystical minimalism, and, as well, Paul Winter's skill in setting out an extended suite that thoroughly, and captivatingly, integrates his own musical ideas with native American music and the musics of various fauna found in the Northern Rockies...
To my mind, this is one of the best of the Paul Winter CDs. Other favorites are Common Ground, Callings and Missa Gaia. This CD evokes wild places and the critters that live in them. There are some samples of bird calls, wolves and other critters, but overall the focus is on the music. The use of the frame drum in several pieces and the evocative use of the cello with Paul Winter's mellow woodwinds create a truly winning combination. The music is really excellent when heard in one sitting since it is like a concert within one CD.
What people may not know is that this CD was issued along with a painting of Bev Doolittle's called "Prayer for the Wild Things". I purchased a print and received the CD along with it. Great CD!
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