After having listened to the rich and powerful new work, Sapphire Oak from Sharon Fendrich many times, trying to find words to describe what has to be the standout album of the year, is challenging.
Beautiful, rich, deep and dreamy Sapphire Oak will take you places that perhaps you never wanted to go, as it celebrates that out of turmoil comes beauty, resilience and eternal hope though the wonderful metaphor of the immensely strong, resilient, eternal oak tree.
Mystical and sumptuous this outstanding work is introduced with Sea of Oaks, a gently seductive piece that immediately captures the very essence of the sacred mystery wrapped around these wonderful guardians of the earth.
Tribute has been paid to this in the gentle The Grove at Dodona, capturing the mystique of Zeus’s Oracle at Epirus, where the priests would divine the pronouncements of God by listening to and interpreting the rustle of the oaks leaves.
Soaring vocals from Fendrich set the Call of the Ruins apart from other pieces. Her purity of voice is haunting; a high priestess summoning the elements, calling forth the magic, the very essence of the Gods of heaven and earth. Evocative and beautiful.
Once again captivating, with delicate strings holding the melody in an ethereal thread, is the delicate Dryad’s Rejoice which simply underlines the magic that surrounds the oak once again and the many very little, sometimes visible nymphs, who live within and without. Greek mythology would not be such without these intriguing nature spirits.
Without a doubt this is a work of feminine energy. The voice of Talia Valdez, joins with that of her mother Sharon Fendrich in Under Her Canopy to bring this enchanting song into a rich fullness of tones and layers. Utterly enchanting and deeply emotional, this is a work of pure love.
Once again Sapphire Oak is graced with rich vocals reminiscent of Celtic elements, and as the signature piece, does not disappoint with its many gentle layers richly interwoven throughout the orchestral soundtrack.
Flute leads in the final piece Carry the Oak, a slightly more sombre piece, once again hauntingly resonant, touching on a variety of emotions as the clear, dainty notes of the flute, combined with luscious strings, draws a stellar work to a close.
Red Sky Prairie was Fendrich’s first album and was a standout work. Sapphire Oak has taken her music to another level altogether; she has tapped into a deep and mystical stream of consciousness that sets this work apart and is, from the first to the last note, utterly enchanting.
Sapphire Oak: an award winner, most definitely.
Distributor Sharon Fendrich Music
Released June 2022
Running Time 51mins 37secs
Artists Sharon Fendrich. Additional vocals Talia Valdez.
Review By Janet Mawdesley
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