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Album Review: Opus Four
Tim Neumark
Cover image of the album Opus Four by Tim Neumark
Opus Four
Tim Neumark
2013 / Tim Neumark
57 minutes
Review by Kathy Parsons
Opus Four is a collection of thirteen original piano solos by Tim Neumark. For those not familiar with music terminology, an opus number is traditionally assigned to a composer’s work to put it in chronological order. Those numbers aren’t used as much in contemporary music as they were historically, but since this is Neumark’s fourth CD, the title is fitting and appropriate. (The piano teacher in me couldn’t resist explaining that!) As with Neumark’s previous albums, the music on this one was inspired by experiences and emotions, and being a new dad has brought about quite a few inspiring moments as well! There is a variety of musical styles and moods on this album, but most of the pieces are gentle, uncomplicated, and very sincere - an uplifting hour of beautiful solo piano. Pianists will be happy to know that a companion songbook is on its way - available now to download and coming soon in hard copy.

Opus Four begins with “With Wonder,” a charming piece that conveys the innocence and simplicity of seeing the world through a child’s eyes. The gently flowing tempo and uncomplicated melody line make this a warmly welcoming first track. “Dad’s Victory” commemorates Neumark’s father’s final chemo treatment and victory over cancer. Far from being a cinematic victory march, this piece expresses relief, hope, and a very deep love. Neumark says in the liner notes that “Waltz in F Minor” is the first piece of music he has released simply for the sake of the music. Bittersweet and elegant, it’s a favorite. “A Moment of Joy” is a short, effervescent happy dance. “Winter Dreams” is another favorite - on the dark side at the beginning, the mood lightens as the piece evolves. “Persian Rhapsody” is quite different. With an exotic Middle Eastern flavor, this eight-minute exploration is sometimes playful, sometimes reflective, sometimes flowing, and sometimes energetic - always very enjoyable. “Two Hearts” was inspired by the first time Neumark saw an ultrasound of his daughter’s beating heart. Tender and loving with a suggestion of excitement and anticipation, this is another highlight of the album. “Adagio Sostenuto” has a strong classical influence and Neumark keeps this passionate beauty understated and graceful - love it! “Seattle Nocturne” is another favorite. Recreated from an improvisation performed at Piano Haven Studio (in Seattle at the time), it is a very open, relaxing piece that conveys feelings of longing and introspection. Neumark has included a meditation piece on each album, and this time “Skipping Stones” is that piece. “Chasing Glory” is the most upbeat and energetic track on the album and is meant to capture the feeling of the Olympic Games as well as the joy and excitement of competition - a buoyant close to Opus Four.

Fans of Tim Neumark’s first three albums will find much to savor with Opus Four, and for those who are new to his music, this is a great place to start! It is available from timneumark.com, Amazon, iTunes, and CD Baby. Recommended!
May 6, 2013