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The Sounding Board by R J Lannan
RJ Lannan is the reviewer for The Sounding Board.
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I Dream About This World: The Wyeth Album
By Catherine Marie Charlton
Label: Phil's Records
Released 7/14/2017
I Dream About This World: The Wyeth Album tracks
1. Nonesuch (The Wind)
2. Granen (The Spruce)
3. I Dream About This World
4. Outside of Time, a Healing
5. Die Luft Ist Blau
6. Helga Suite: Chorale
7. A Walk
8. Off At Sea
9. All That I Feel
10. April Rain
11. Eternity
When Sound and Light Converge
Andrew Wyeth was one of the most remarkable American painters of the 20th century. His muted colors and stark contrasts made his paintings somehow more appealing to the unpracticed eye. He created simple visuals that represented his life, the people he saw, and the landscapes he walked upon.

Catherine Marie Charlton is a gifted contemporary pianist that has taken time to translate some of his most noted works into musical relationships on her latest offering I Dream About This World - The Wyeth Album. It is like adding artist and art to art again. The album consists of eleven tracks that combine modern piano with elements of jazz and classical music that forms a unified work of dynamic, yet refined outcomes. Charlton has been playing for more than two decades and in that time her style has changed, matured, and coalesced into a singularly passionate framework. Charlton is joined by a pair of powerhouse talents on the record, namely cellist David Darling and multi-instrumentalist Nancy Rumbel.

The album opens with the work Nonesuch. Perhaps it is a one-word description of the extraordinary man that painted such everlasting works. Everyone like a moment frozen in time. The opening guitar licks are discombobulating until the main theme kicks in. Then Catherine's piano turns into a contemporary/jazz homage with Renaissance-like touches.

Taking a page from Jean Sibelius' notebook is Catherine's rendition of Granen - The Spruce. It has a classic beauty to it, a timeless resonance of days gone by. At first, it reminded me of Autumn Leaves, but then my classical memories surfaced. Wyeth does have a watercolor called Cat Spruce (1954) that seems related, but he had several works relating to the tree. One can almost smell the pitch and watch as stray breezes move the branches. If you listen closely, there is the lonesome sound of a train whistle at the end.

With the sound of flowing water in the background, one of the longest cuts on the album at 9:50 is called Outside of Time, Healing. It is a pensive piece with Nancy Rumbel's haunting horn echoing throughout. Listening to this, my favorite, I often felt just a bit sad. When pain from the world outside or the heart inside you evidences itself, it is often a lonely time of struggle. I could feel that struggle within the music. It is a beautiful piece of music.

The track, A Walk, probably best represents the whole body of work. Charlton explained that much of the music was the result of "Wyeth Walks" and the evidence is clear. This meditative piece on guitar and piano is a quiet, soothing and graceful. Take a few steps. A few paces are sunny, a few more are full of pines and other greenery. There is sure to be flowing water somewhere near. Charlton herself paints a lovely landscape for the listener.

Another favorite is called April Rain. It has an impressionistic sense to it that easily reminds me of Erik Satie. It is a study in black and white if you will. Lots of contrasts, sharp lines and district imagery. The clouds never move and the rain comes straight down. Being a pluviophile, I can certainly relate. Rain is clean and nourishing and cathartic.

The last cut is called Eternity. With some slightly, but appropriate discordant elements, the work closes with a finality that cannot be denied. As long as there paintings hanging on walls, Wyeth's works will last forever in the hearts and minds of humankind. Sometimes his sharpness stabs at the eyes, but at other times his use of gentle grays and greens gives a feeling that he knew our personal lives.

This is Catherine Marie Charlton's best work to date. Like Wyeth, she musically uses light, shadow, and darkness as well as subdued color to create music that is emotionally stimulating. This is rainy day music that you can listen to all year long and never get tired of it. Many of Charlton's albums are improvisational, but this particular one shows a carefully crafted effort of harmonically passionate pieces.

I’ll close with a quote from Andrew Wyeth which says, "One's art goes as far and as deep as one's love goes." Charlton's music goes all the way.
Rating: Very Good +   Very Good +
- reviewed by RJ Lannan on 10/6/2017
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