A Glimmer of Hope
2017 / Annie Locke
Review by Kathy Parsons
A Glimmer of Hope is British composer/pianist Annie Locke’s fourth album, but it is her first release in more than twenty years and her first solo piano collection. The thirteen original pieces on the album range from earlier compositions up through more recent work. The music is warm and personal, and there is a comforting touch in all of the pieces. Much of Locke’s music begins with improvisation and she retains that spontaneity and freshness in the finished work. Her classical roots are apparent in the richness of the harmonies and the beautiful flow of the melodies, and yet this music is timeless.
Locke started playing the piano at the age of five and won a scholarship for lessons in secondary school, but between her father’s and her own serious health issues, she wasn’t able to devote as much time as she would have liked to her music. Despite those obstacles, Locke was accepted by the Royal Academy of Music in London and earned a music degree with piano and oboe as her main studies. She didn’t start composing until after college and her discovery of the synthesizer. Her first three albums became popular relaxation music among a variety of health professionals as well as the listening public, and the music reached many countries even before the internet took off and landed in the “Top 10” Billboard charts in the USA.
A Glimmer of Hope begins with “The Story Begins,” a colorful prelude and introductory “song without words.” “An End to Hunger, An End to War” was improvised in the first few hours of the Gulf War and reflects Locke’s emotional reaction to the unfolding events. Poignant and beautifully expressed, it’s one of the highlights of the album. “River Story” has a peaceful grace that is almost hypnotic in its tranquility. “Riding Through Montana” suggests the vast openness of “Big Sky Country” and the majesty of the more rugged areas of the state. “Deep In the Forest” tells a fanciful story of night creatures in the deep forest who come out of hiding in the dark of night to dance until dawn. Much of the story is told from the lower half of the piano keyboard, which suggests a feeling of darkness - I really like this one! “Honour” appeared in a more orchestrated form on an earlier album and was dedicated to the late Sir George Trevelyan. Warm and melodic with deep emotional expression, it’s another beauty. “Natasha” elegantly conveys love and appreciation for a dear friend. “Encounter In Venice” is another favorite. It begins with sparkling broken chords that make me think of moonlight dancing on water. The second part of the piece tells a story - perhaps a meeting with a dashing stranger or a long conversation in a cafe. Whatever the actual event was, it must have been wonderful! The album ends with “With No Regrets” - a great way to close!
Annie Locke is promising a series of solo piano albums, and I can’t wait to hear what else she has for us! I don’t recall hearing any of her previous recordings, but I really like this one! It is available from Amazon, iTunes and CD Baby. Recommended!
July 18, 2017