Thursday, February 24, 2022

Opus 8 By Tim Neumark


Opus 8


Tim Neumark

Written by

Steve Sheppard


There are but a few pianists who have the creational abilities that Tim Neumark has, the ability to make you feel the music, and to literally take you there to that very moment of conception within the mind of the artist. Tim Neumark on Opus 8 will do just that and more on an album that is packed with reflective heart felt moments and emotive compositions.

Our opening piece is one of the most poignant I have heard from the artist and called Lockdown, this is something most of us have now experienced, some of us are still under pandemic restrictions, but it did give us a vast amount of time to consider our lives and were we leading them in the best way possible? This is a superb arrangement that explores those long days of gazing out of the window, while life was on hold; wind still blew through the trees, birdsong blessed the skies and rain still fell, but we had little more than a weak hope that we could be perhaps a part of it again, this mournful repose perfectly explores those dark times.

I must say this is one of my favourites from the album, probably because I have just released a piece about a Winter Sunrise myself, so a feeling of familiarity of tone and texture that lays within February Moonlight still speaks to me. A more fluent performance on piano you will not find, as Neumark almost brings a little Lanz into the proceedings at times, a slight romantic energy can also be felt here.

I remember this next one very well, a single back in 2019 and Bows in the Mirror tells the loving tale of the image of his two daughters in his rear view mirror of his car, this charming Waltz to this day still has a special place in my musical heart.

There is something quite mysterious about this next track called The Ghost, but with a title like that there would be wouldn’t there. The repeating motif that resides within this haunting offering is addictive; sometimes I also get a melody theme whilst creating, one that also disappears like a ghost when I try to repeat my efforts, a good deal of passion and intent can be found within this track as well.

A truly gentle narrative can be found on this next offering by Neumark, it is called Non Sequitur. Sometimes tracks come up like this this that have no connection to anything else and that is perfectly alright, it is also a perfect opportunity for the artist to just create, clean out the pipes, and here we find the resulting effort is a quite emotional song indeed.

The pace picks up with this next track entitled Shining Through; the rapid tempo is so redolent of the subject matter, a sun kissed offering indeed, one can feel through the performance that the artist is truly enjoying himself, and is perfectly in the moment and perhaps even inspired by a happy memory of summers passed, a wonderfully pleasing and warming presentation on piano by the artist.

As we creep over the half way marker we come across a charming composition called My Love, there is a certain delicacy about this performance that is so heart-warming, this is the style of arrangement that you would create for someone you really loved very deeply. Neumark plays from his centre of truth here and brings us a gentle embrace of a piano performance.

Still is an almost meditative song that stays with you for ages afterwards, the energy of this next five plus minutes is so very emotive and memorable. It is very rare to find piano creations that would aid meditation, but I’ve tried it and this one works, and is also probably the most ambient piece that the artist has ever created.

Another favourite of mine now, as we listen to Conundrum, the opening notes deliver that feeling right off the bat, as the piano moves its tones back and forth, giving us a dualistic sense of reality and perhaps confusion, and lays them down before us to question, but for once, maybe there is no answer to be had, a wonderfully clever performance indeed by Neumark.

Every musician has their break through piece, they may not realise it at that moment, but what they have created touches the lives of others with such power, intensity and emotion, this is what Yearning is for me, a composition of wanting to move on, or return to days of happiness, that moment of aloneness that allows us to communicate directly with our hearts, the most personal of issues are played out here, and in my view, the best composition within the career of Tim Neumark.

We all need our sanctuaries and I believe that with the track Escape the artist has created just that, there is something quite grand and almost majestic about this construction that I adore. The bridge within this offering manifests a truly special place, one that has allowed the music to manifest a grand soundscape.

The penultimate offering is entitled Earth Paused and the 4 repeating notes are redolent of the years of the pandemic lockdowns we have already addressed; this is the shortest offering on the album at just over 2 minutes, but one of the most poignant.

Our last port of call has been reached and it is entitled Hope (An Arrangement for orchestra), the only non-solo piano offering on the release. Here the artist uses a beautiful flowing symphonic gesture to conclude the album; this is Tim Neumark paying homage to another pianist in Michele McLaughlin with a colourful and orchestral adaptation of her piece Hope.

Opus 8 by Tim Neumark is a remarkable volume of work, one that I personally am very glad to have within my musical vaults; there are 13 wonderful compositions all with differing flavours, textures, components and tones. Neumark has created a veritable tapestry of solo piano magic here, and finished with a magical conclusion, in what in my humble view is the best work of the pianist and composer thus far. 

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