"Matilda’s Flowers is a collection of ten gentle instrumentals assembled as a tribute to pianist/composer Rick Sparks’ grandmother. Included are seven original compositions, a wonderful cover of Sting’s Fields of Gold, and arrangements of two favorite hymns. Most of the songs have digital orchestrations in addition to the piano, and the music is intended to take the listener to a place of peace and quiet renewal."
"Matilda is remembered as a strong but gentle woman 'who loved flowers, her family and her Lord Jesus,' and these pieces express those qualities so well. The album begins with the title track, a warm and affectionate piano solo that reflects the sweet innocence of the cover artwork. The painting by Ludwig Knaus (1829-1910) is of a young girl picking an armload of flowers in a field - and the piece is a favorite!"
"Memories of Her makes me think of Kevin Kern’s tender melodies - always a treat! The piano plays at a leisurely tempo with string washes adding pastel tonal colors."
"I love Sparks’ arrangement of Fields of Gold! It begins with the sound of heavy rainfall and thunder, giving way to flute, keyboard and strings - gorgeous and soul-satisfying! Nothing But the Blood is the first of the two hymns. Various keyboard sounds and voices keep the heartfelt melody simple and very effective."
"Mountain Laurel is another favorite. A piano solo for most of the first half of the piece, strings and wordless vocals are added to the second half. I love the graceful simplicity of the melody and the contented feeling of the piece."
"Old Tennessee is a nostalgic look back to a less complicated time - also a favorite. Tildy’s Waltz is a charming solo piano waltz that alternates between major and minor modes, giving the piece a bittersweet taste - my favorite piece on the album!"
"Nearer My God To Thee is said to have been played by the ship’s orchestra as the Titanic sank in 1912, the year of Matilda’s wedding. Sparks has arranged it as a lovely piano solo that brings the album to a close."
"Matilda’s Flowers is an excellent second release from Rick Sparks! It is available from Amazon, iTunes, and CD Baby. Recommended!" -Kathy Parsons, September 19, 2016
"Mr. Sparks subtitled this work, Quiet piano to replenish your spirit. It’s a fitting subtitle."
"Opening with a Gordon Lightfoot cover (Beautiful), which Sparks makes all his own, the album progresses with other excellent covers and original compositions. His clean and sure piano is augmented to great effect by synthesized strings and vocals, always in tasteful balance to his star-turn piano playing."
"The title song, Endless, inspired, as was the album in its entirety, by the star-filled night sky, is exquisite. The Wexford Carol is another standout."
"I find myself amazed at how professional and accomplished some artists' first or second releases can sound these days. It's almost as if these recording musicians come out of the gate as seasoned pros! Such is the case with Rick Sparks."
"Sparks' use of keyboard textures and embellishments, to accent his mellow and warm piano lead melodies, is way ahead of many of his contemporaries."
"Star-shimmering synths kick off the first track, a cover of Gordon Lightfoot's Beautiful... what a fantastic opening track - it had me hooked on the first playing!"
"Endless is, to me, one of the top albums of 2014... gorgeous graphics, flawless production and virtuoso performance."
EXCERPTS FROM MICHAEL DIAMOND'S REVIEW:
"Rick's goal is to create music that 'feeds the soul,' and he has certainly done that on Endless, an album full of grace, beauty and spiritual inspiration."
"(There's a) sense of longing and mystery in the album's evocative title track, which I found quite moving."
"Lovely and delicate piano melodies, washes of dreamy ethereal synthesizer and accents of acoustic guitar."
EXCERPTS FROM KATHY PARSONS' REVIEW:
"It's a beauty from the stunning cover artwork to every note of music."
"All of the songs are wonderful, but I hope Sparks will grace us with more of his originals next time!"
"I love the title track, a gentle and soothing piece that suggests vast open spaces and infinite peace - this is a must-hear!"
"Rick Sparks' new career as a recording artist is off to a great start! If you are looking for some quiet, heartfelt piano music, be sure to check this one out! Recommended!"
"From the cover art and the liners, it’s clear that Rick was thinking of (or maybe looking at) the sky when he composed this… some simple, yet wonderful, sonic experiences that remind us of how timeless music can be. All you have to listen to is the first few bars of the opener, Beautiful, to be convinced of his mastery in music."
"I’m highly impressed with his gentle, yet emotionally filling, touch on the keyboards, and the sonics he’s woven together with tunes like the majestic Wexford Carol will fill you with the kind of joy that only high talent in music can bring. It was the wonderful weave of voices on Loch Lomond that made it my favorite of the ten tunes Rick offered up for your listening pleasure… the pacing on this one is just fantastic, like you’ve never heard it before."
"I give Rick a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, with an EQ (energy quotient) rating of 4.98. Get more information about this great artist at Rick’s website." -Dick Metcalf, Improvijazzation Nation
EXCERPTS FROM DANA WRIGHT'S REVIEW:
"The blend of original works, cover songs and historic favorites make this album a wonderful listen."
"Loch Lomond is pure magic. The ethereal nature of this piece was a shiver of delight."
"If you want a respite from the world this holiday season, have a sit-down with Endless. It is a joy to the world."