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Album Review: Reflections & Recollections, Volume 1
Mark John McEncroe
Cover image of the album Reflections & Recollections, Volume 1 by Mark John McEncroe
Reflections & Recollections, Volume 1
Mark John McEncroe
2013 / Koi Music Pty. Ltd.
72 minutes
Review by Kathy Parsons
Reflections & Recollections, Volume 1 is the debut recording by Australian composer Mark John McEncroe and is promised to be the first of a series. Volume 1 contains thirteen original piano solos performed by Helen Kennedy, a pianist who has concertized internationally and who has been McEncroe’s piano teacher since 1999. Much of McEncroe’s music is inspired by the French Impressionist period, and while it is complex and free, it isn’t as demanding as the music of Debussy or Ravel. The idea behind McEncroe’s composing style is to express his recollections of his life experiences using a garden setting (his koi pond/bonsai courtyard) with references to water, shadows, climate, fish, etc. Without intending to “further the boundaries of musical innovation or to showcase virtuosity,” McEncroe hopes to transport listeners to a “reflection and recollection” journey of their own. While most of the music on this album is slow and graceful, there is a very interesting variety of styles and approaches from Baroque to blues. A retired chef, McEncroe does a lovely job of blending and balancing his sonic ingredients, creating a tasty and satisfying musical dish.

Reflections & Recollections, Volume 1 begins with “A Lazy Summer’s Afternoon,” a gently flowing piece that expresses a peaceful kind of warmth that refreshes both heart and soul - a beautiful start! “Andante Moderato” a multi-movement work with a strong Baroque influence in its structure and constant movement. This is one of my favorites to play from the companion sheet music book, and I really enjoy listening to it as well. I love the title “A Fish With The Blues” almost as much as I like the song! A variety of themes combine to make a descriptive piece that is fun to listen to while occasionally tugging at the heartstrings. “Ghosts From the Past” is another favorite. Reflective and haunting, it expresses many moods and thoughts with grace and deep emotion. “Introspective Moments” is a lovely slow waltz with a dreamy lilt. “Shades of Autumn” weaves a variety of moods, thoughts, and feelings into a tapestry of sound that expresses the beginnings and endings that occur in autumn along with the changes of season. “Shadows In the Water” moves slowly and expressively, never hurried or anxious - very soothing. “The Pendulum” has a free-form right hand over a repeated left hand pattern, reflecting on how time continues to move at the same pace no matter what we’re doing (my interpretation, anyway!).

Mark John McEncroe is off to a great start with his newest career as a composer! Reflections & Recollections, Volume 1 is recommended to those who like their solo piano music with a strong classical influence. It is available from markjohnmcencroecomposer.com, Amazon, iTunes and CD Baby.
September 17, 2014
This review has been tagged as:
Debut Albums