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Album Review: Garden Life
Mark Birmingham
Cover image of the album Garden Life by Mark Birmingham
Garden Life
Mark Birmingham
Review by Kathy Parsons
This first recording from pianist Mark Birmingham is incredible! Originally trained as a concert pianist, Birmingham's roots show clearly! The title presents a theme of the many activities that go on in a garden (some unseen), and this CD is vibrant and exciting from start to finish! The piano is augmented with synth, Synclavier, flute, violin, cello, and viola on several tracks, and others are solo piano. Classical in scope and depth throughout, the variation from piece to piece is wonderful. "Under the Moonlight' opens on a dark but peaceful note, showing Birmingham's pianism and warmly expressive touch to full advantage. "Spring Rain" lightens the mood with a gentle, ethereal piece that evolves into a impassioned duet for piano and violin, and then returns to the opening piano theme. "One For All" is a lively ensemble piece about chivalry and ancient times. "Fern Dance" is a swirling, rhythmic delight - one of my favorite tracks! "Anna's View" returns to a more somber, but very evocative solo piece. "Celebration" is a fully orchestrated ode to joy, somewhat reminiscent of some of Yanni's bigger pieces (I like Yanni - this isn't an insult!). "The Fountain" is a lovely, flowing piano solo that quiets the mood a bit. "Bee Train" is a lively, uptempo frolic - my favorite cut! There are jazz elements here, and a wonderfully infectious beat leading up to a darker midsection that goes through many mood changes, and returns to the frenzy of the opening theme (Birmingham has obvious watched swarms of bees at work!) "Sweet Dreams" closes the CD with a sweet, restful, more ambient feel complete with thunder in the background. For those who really like to get in and listen fully to a CD, this is a great choice, and one that will bring new surprises each time you listen. Excellent!
January 26, 2000
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Debut AlbumsKathy's Favorites: 1998