Darlene Koldenhoven has enjoyed a long-standing musical career that boasts some impressive highlights, including having performed as the soprano soloist at Yanni: Live at The Acropolis, as well as her portrayal as a choir nun in the blockbuster comedy Sister Act. With several solo albums to her credit, Darlene’s musical style ranges from classical crossover, to new age vocal to contemporary instrumental. Her latest album, Chromatones, is a purely instrumental work based on the music of her previous release, Color Me Home. Both albums feature the same compositional lineup, however, the songs themselves have been retitled yet nonetheless still capture similar meanings and visual interpretations as those ascribed to their original vocal renditions.
With Darlene at the helm as producer, composer, arranger and engineer, she also lends piano, keyboard, native drum and shaker. Likewise, the album variably features contributions from a line-up of familiar names that appeared on her previous album, such as David Arkenstone, Wouter Kellerman, Ricky Kej and others.
Chromatones opens pristinely with “Golden Dawn”, a lovely piece that makes great use of bird song and ocean waves, which soon introduce a gently colorful ensemble of piano, flute and string instruments. “Mourning Doves” follows with dove cooing before blossoming into a flowing piano melody enhanced by radiant flute and solemn strings. “Red Savannah” ensues as the instrumental rendition of “Kalahari Calls” from Color Me Home. This piece is my favorite on the album, with the all-instrumental arrangement further bringing out the subtle textures possessed within the composition’s seemingly idyllic, tropical soundscape. Introduced by the serene sounds of wading through water, “Swans on the Seine” possesses a romantically whimsical air about it with its dreamy blend of harp and clarinet. Next, “Terra Affirma” features a softly sweeping and somewhat cinematic arrangement of piano, horn and strings that are brushed throughout by sparkling chimes and harp. Another favorite is the ensuing “Native Bloom”, which opens with mysterious Native flute intonations that are soon joined by sparse piano notes, rain-sticks and tribal percussion.
While the title “Vibrant Worlds” may suggest a song that's decidedly energetic and upbeat, this gentle piece of music is more like a lovely lullaby that features a comfortingly beautiful violin melody throughout. Next up is “Chromatones” – a dreamy yet vibrant composition that certainly earns its title-track status. Comprised of synthesizers and hammered dulcimer, the piece subtly evokes some of the works of new age music veteran Constance Demby. “Prism of Time” gently follows with a beautiful duet of piano and flute – while the ensuing “Painted Desert” showcases flugelhorn. The final piece, “Waltzing in Planetary Time”, is a delicately melodic and tender composition that highlights acoustic guitar and English horn, bringing this colorful listening experience to a serenely sentimental close.
With Chromatones, Darlene Koldenhoven has beautifully crafted an enchantingly exquisite musical tapestry of new age piano ensemble music. Once again weaving a colorful spectrum of tones and textures throughout these elegant compositions, her latest album is sure to engage, uplift and delight the listener’s spirit! ~Candice Michelle