Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
Genres: Jazz, New Age, Pop
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Classic Paul Sullivan - beautiful, but more pensive than his
Richard Cantor | East Coast, USA | 12/07/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Let me first say that I have only Paul Sullivan's first four recordings (from "Sketches in Maine" to "Christmas in Maine") by which to compare this recording.
Selections on his early CDs (and tape cassettes!) consist of several upbeat numbers, a very jazzy treatment of a song, and two or three slow ballads based on classical structure (reminiscent of Chopin or Shumann). Every recording is distinguished by one highly memorable song that easily brings tears to the listener, be it "Longs Peak" on "A Visit to the Rockies", "Cradle Song" on "Christmas in Maine," or "Sky Full of Stars" on "Sketches of Maine."
"FA" is graced with the beautiful Irish-ballad sounding "The Rising Moon." For me, this song, as well as "Sky Full of Stars," are the two most beautiful pieces in Mr. Sullivan's repertoire. (I am partial to the slower classical-influenced ballads. I could also name a few of his more upbeat numbers that are just as beautiful, such as "Love at First Sight," on "A Visit to the Rockies.")
What I found different about "FA" is the more pensive mood that seems to predominate most of the selections. Selections on his other CDs have a more "joyous" tone. This is a subjective view, of course, and I don't mean to say this in a negative way. I found the more pensive feeling resulted in more "controlled" musical phrasing that steered closer to the main melodic theme. Selections on other recordings can involve Mr. Sullivan demonstrating his jazz prowess through more acrobatic pyrotechniques. "Open Sky," and "Little David," the final cut on the CD allow Mr. Sullivan to "let loose," and do his masterful jazz acrobatics.
What I also liked about "FA" is the predominance of the use of the solo piano in most of the selections. Only on the cuts, "Penobscot Bay," and "Leon," does the use of another instrument take the foreground. The use of the french horn, I believe, in "Leon," joined in later with the cello, connecting with the piano embellishment, produce a beautiful sound. (The choice of the instrument used on "Penobscot Bay" creates a harsher sound to my ear, which is why that cut is my least liked song on the CD, although the melody and "chart" of instrumental lines is fine.)
Every cut on this recording is highly listenable (albeit with a pensive quality), with a few containing highly memorable and pleasing melodic phrasing ("Adrift," and "Leon," are examples of this), but "The Rising Moon," is the star on this CD. Of all the recordings I have of Mr. Sullivan's works, "FA" contains the greatest number of ballads that I would label "classic" (as in my favorites as well as influenced by Chopin-like melodic phrasing).
"Farewell My Friends," "Adrift," and "Leon" are songs that have timeless melodies. If some of the jazz phrasing was removed from some of the pieces on this album, and were played in the royal courts of years ago or in more contemporary times during the golden age of classical music, I dare to say they would have been recognized as classical masterpieces. Although I was most deeply moved by "The Rising Moon," the melodies of "Adrift" and "Leon," struck me as timeless and inspired by the same source that allowed Chopin and the other great classical composers to craft brilliant work. Such is the content of much of this recording.
If you enjoy ballads of a traditional Irish flavor and enjoy classical music mixed with pleasing jazz infusions, you will enjoy this CD. It may not make you feel "happy" like some of his other recordings, but it may increase your sense of gratitude and bring you a deeper sense of peace. I can almost guarantee that you will be humming along to some of the music as you hear it!
A beautiful work.