Review By Enlightened Piano Radio
Before listening to Reverie, John Burke told me that this CD was a different beast, altogether from his first CD, Synethesia. Trust me, he knew what he was talking about! This album is nearly as different from his first one as day is from night. It shows me that, as a composer and a pianist, John has great diversity and versatility. That is a trait that is to be appreciated and highly respected. In the music of Reverie, it seems that Mr. Burke pulls out all the stops and allows himself creative freedom to “go with the flow.” He seems to be able to dispense with all the “labels” and restrictions of a specific genre (or anyone’s idea of a specific genre) and simply compose from the heart.
He begins this wonderful CD with “Awaken.” This piece has an almost lilting melody and rhythm that truly does waken the senses and whet the appetite for more. In “Music Maker, Dreamer of Dreams,” John muses on the keyboard with a free-style, carefree theme, creating layers of sound and adding chords that climb up and down the keyboard with a catchy melody dancing above.
“Escape” literally leaves the listener breathless! The tension builds throughout the piece with the driving left hand that creates suspense, conveying the desperate need to escape the clutches of the pursuer. It would nearly seem hopeless, if not for the final chord, with the Picardy third, transporting one to a brighter major key and giving the sense of final victory. He follows the suspenseful ride of “Escape” perfectly with the light and airy “A Midsummer Daydream.” This piece is winsome and uplifting, wandering in and out of the main theme with easy, breezy sections allowing the mind to wander and rest.
One of my personal favorites, “Head in the Clouds” is a floating waltz with a beautiful, airy melody floating brightly in and out. Near the end of this piece, Mr. Burke uses a very rapid “pizzicato” technique that I have never before heard used on the keyboard. Beautiful! “Bliss,” is a happy piece dancing up and down the black keys with a catchy, almost “folksy” melody. It is written in the key of F# Major (not a common key) and lifts the heart of the listener nearly causing one to want to dance with joy!
“A Musing Musician” is truly that! The listener gets a sense of John not only playing the piano, but also playing WITH the piano, much as a child would play with a favorite toy. He gives the sense of being truly enveloped in the moment and allowing his fingers to dance at will on the keyboard. He ends this piece by simply drifting off into the unknown. Perfect ending!
The word “rhapsody” is defined in the dictionary as “an effusively enthusiastic or ecstatic expression of feeling.” That is exactly what Mr. Burke portrays in his next track, “Rhapsody.” He travels all over the keyboard with intricate patterns and an enthusiastic musical expression of his feelings. One feels moments of true rapture singing through this piece.
In “Wistful Thinking,” another of my favorites, John sets the mood with a 6-note, wistful melody that returns over and over throughout the piece. He develops this melody in several ways during the composition, but always returns to state it simply and beautifully. And, of course, my absolute favorite, “Imagination” ends the CD perfectly. He lets his musical imagination run wild in this playful piece with a fun melody and “jazzy” style. In the middle of this piece, John includes a wonderful section of jazz improvisation. The little embellishing passages in the right hand were so much fun to listen to that I literally found myself chuckling!
Every composer wants to demonstrate a musical maturing process as they release subsequent albums. John Burke has certainly done that with Reverie! And this man definitely knows his way around the keyboard! I give this CD 4-1/2 stars out of 5 and highly recommend it. I’m looking forward to much more music and many more CDs from this wonderful, talented artist!