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The Nymphaeum CD Cover
Image © Exzel Music Publishing 2002 

(08 June 2002) The debut album from Angelwing is a a ten-track collection entitled The Nymphaeum (Exzel Music (USA) EMCD990601, 2001). Certain to appeal to Enya and Loreena McKennitt music enthusiasts, the album inspired by the classic William A Bougereau painting, features vocally laden tracks bracketing the mainly instrumental title track, a whispy Enya-like five-part epic. The artists are from Los Angeles, CA and Phoenix, AZ.

Reenie Varga (vocals) and Erin Hawkins (cello and backing vocals) are two of the featured artists. Reenie Varga is an aspiring singer/songwriter living in Los Angeles as well as an accomplished painter and actress and is the main vocal force behind Angelwing. She frequently performs in the Los Angeles area with the Reenie Varga Trio. She has has appeared in films and has lent her voice and likeness to some very successful video games as well. Reenie attended the Tyler school of Art at Temple University and her oil painting 'the Nymph' graces the back cover of the Angelwing CD.

Erin Hawkins is a classically trained singer who got her start at the age of four. She took up the eello at the ripe age of nine and has been playing ever since. She won the Utah state competition with her high school three years running and is a graduate of the University of Utah majoring in Fine Arts. Erin is currently working on her own solo album project due out later this year.

Rick Costello (guitars and executive producer), Gary Strausbaugh (keyboard), Frank Danna (guitar), Victor Bradley (bass) and John Biehl (percussion) complete the lineup. Rick's background is in progressive rock. He created and released two other albums: The Lemming Shepherds, a children’s CD-ROM storybook that promotes individual thinking and the compilation disc, and The Job Shopper Album an eclectic mix of standard and original songs for the Contract Engineer on the road.

The album opens with the vocal track "Radical Seed" written by Renee Varga. Here the vocalists harmonise in an evocative and sensual introduction to Angelwing's music backed by light orchestral arrangements. The title track is a symphonic instrumental of acoustic guitar, piano, cello and is accompanied by the vocalists' whispers, oohs and ahhs. Haunting and unforgettable, the Nymphaeum is an inspiring while soothing new age suite certain to appeal to a wide audience.

"Part I-a guitar duet" and "Part II-the orchestral theme" are blended into a gentle and moody 10+ minute epic with keyboards and strings--especially acoustic guitar and piano--swirling between the various thematic elements of the piece. The shorter "Part III-an acoustic guitar theme," actually more highly textured by keyboard, continues to build on the themes. "Part IV-reprise," is richer still, with rich orchestral-style keyboards evoking memories of classic progressive numbers. The vocal harmonies within the mix are wonderful. "Part V-piano themes" has spacey keyboards and whispy vocals that compliment the main piano-based melody.

The upbeat richly arranged and primarily instrumental new age number "What a beautiful Sunset!" includes evocative and soaring oohs and aahs from the vocalists that are more pronounced than in "the Nymphaeum" suite. "The Calling" is a short, lovely and vocally-laden track supported by acoustic guitar and gently orchestral-style keyboards. Clearly the standout track on the album is the richly arranged, moving and evocatively sung "Tears of Joy." Lead and backing vocals are perfectly supported by lush orchestral arrangements.

A short intermission on the CD precedes sweetly produced remixes of "Radical Seed" and "What a beautiful Sunset!" echo the vocal themes in the earlier tunes and are certain to appeal to all. The listener must wait patiently through a ten minute intermission following "Tears of Joy" or fiddle the CD player to advance to track 9 to get them play.

Our readers are certain to enjoy Angelwing's gently flowing debut album "The Nymphaeum." While the central suite draws significant attention, the pieces that bracket the main suite may appeal more to our vocal oriented audience. Read further reviews, grab the free downloads and order the album from amazon.com here. Clearly worth a journey, this album is a must listen!

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