Michael Hoppé and Tim Wheater
1999 / Hearts of Space
Review by Kathy Parsons
Afterglow is another superlative release from Michael Hoppé and his frequent collaborators, cellist Martin Tillman and flautist Tim Wheater. After successful recent individual releases from Hoppé and Wheater on the Real Music label, it was a surprise to find this album on HOS. Afterglow is very reminiscent of the trilogy of “The Poet”, “The Dreamer”, and “The Yearning”, which were released several years ago on Telarc - the first with Hoppé and Tillman, and the latter two with Wheater and Hoppé. The premise of Afterglow was to make a completely improvised album with no boundaries or rules except deep emotion. Hoppé guides and suggests harmonies and chord changes from the keyboards, and Tillman and Wheater take flight individually on some tracks and in perfect synch on others. The freedom and fluidity are amazing, but it seems mind-boggling that such rapture could happen without some pre-composing - these are true artists at work!
As I’ve said before, the cello is my second favorite instrument (after piano), and Tillman’s often haunting style can transport and envelop the listener in sheer beauty. On “The Waiting”, “Long Ago”, and “Distant Call” the yearning he evokes sends goose-bumps up and down the arms and back of the neck. On “The Reckoning” and “The Listening Wind”, he provides the rhythm, playing the cello as both bowed and plucked bass - great stuff! These two more up-tempo pieces are a great addition to the slow flow of the other eleven tracks. Tim Wheater also really shines on this CD, displaying his virtuosity and versatility on a variety of flutes. His duets with Tillman on “The Listening Wind” and “Thoughts of You” are exceptional. Again, these are true artists at work, and the results are breath-taking.
April 5, 1999