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Binkelman's Corner by Bill Binkelman
Bill Binkelman is a long-time icon in the industry.
Other reviews from Binkelman's Corner by Bill Binkelman:
  Every Moment by Joseph L Young, reviewed by Bill Binkelman on 5/7/2018
  One Drop Became An Ocean by Charles Denler, reviewed by Bill Binkelman on 5/7/2018
  Rising by Vicente Avella, reviewed by Bill Binkelman on 5/6/2018
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One Drop Became An Ocean
By Charles Denler
Label: Grumpy Monkey Music
Released 4/1/2017
One Drop Became An Ocean tracks
1. A Fair Wind Home
2. Dreaming Oceans
3. One Drop Became an Ocean
4. In the Shadow of Angels
5. Whispering Sea
6. Rolling Thunder
7. Ice Crystals
8. Dancing Light
9. Catching Rain
10. Whispering Seas
11. The Water Garden II
12. Castles in the Sand
13. The Spring
14. The Seventh Wave
CHARLES DENLER - One Drop Became An Ocean
Charles Denler's One Drop Became An Ocean has a lot going for it. It is an excellent example (in fact, it almost defines) the neo-classical subgenre. This is two-fold in reason. One is that Denler plays with a real string orchestra (the City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra), and two, the music itself is closer to "pure" classical music, with little overlap to related genres such as orchestral pop, cinematic soundscape, et al. I am not in any way, shape, or form knocking or criticizing those neo-classical artists who employ a "virtual" orchestra or who interject other sub genres among their more straightforward classical numbers. My comment is meant to inform those who would be more likely to shun anything but "legit" orchestral recordings (no offense, but these folks would be classical music snobs, basically). Frankly, the very best virtual orchestras can sound damn close to the real thing, so I only comment on this aspect to make it clear what is literally featured on the recording.

One more thing that is unique on the CD, at least to my ears, is how Denler's piano was mic'ed. I am fairly certain that he played live with the orchestra and, as a result, instead of the intimacy of, e.g., a studio recording, there is a sensation of space that I detect. This ends up being a positive for me because it sounds like I am in the concert hall, maybe midway back from the stage. The reverb effect (or what I hear as reverb) is not in any way distracting, and I found it quite pleasurable, not to mention the novelty of it. Maybe some of you will disagree. I am no sound engineer but I do know what I like.

Not all the tracks feature orchestral accompaniment, and the solo numbers tend to be more subdued, e.g. "Dreaming Oceans," which borders on minimalism. Orchestral numbers can vary from dramatic to romantic to wistful, sometimes all in one song. The title track is downright gorgeous, with only a brief interlude featuring the orchestra, mostly being a plaintive piano tone poem. Real drama surfaces midway through "In the Shadow of Angels" and it's glorious! "Whispering Sea," a solo piano track, is overtly sad to my ears, whereas "Rolling Thunder" certainly earns its title at times (Denler does like to interpose drama and quiet in the same composition, something that not everyone will like, perhaps, but I enjoyed it).

I'm not sure how I feel about the relative brevity of Denler's compositions. The longest track is only 3:36 and nine of the fourteen selections are between two and three minutes in duration. On the other hand, this allows the composer/pianist to pack a lot of different musical themes into the album. I do hear some similar motifs among some tracks, which makes sense since it is intended to be a "concept album" of sorts (I make this assumption since more than a few track titles reference water in one way or the other as well as, per the liner notes, Denler "…spent most of my life living on or near water…When I walk along a river, or sit in front of a lake or a vast sea, I am reminded that even a single drop of hope can become an ocean." If you pay attention (as opposed to background listening) you should be able to pick up some short musical phrases which are spread among the tracks as they resurface.

One Drop Became An Ocean was always a welcome addition to my listening day and I enjoyed it all of the ten-plus playings I gave it prior to this review. I hope that classical piano/orchestral fans will heed my advice and give this excellent album a listen. I doubt they will be anything but pleased with what they hear, if not downright thrilled.
- reviewed by Bill Binkelman on 5/7/2018
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