Musical Images for Piano: Reflections & Recollections Vol. 3
Mark John McEncroe composer
Van-Anh Nguyen piano
MUSICAL IMAGES FOR PIANO: REFLECTIONS & RECOLLECTIONS VOL. 3 is the latest continuation of composer Mark John McEncroe’s REFLECTIONS AND RECOLLECTIONS series with Navona Records. Many of the pieces featured on this album are reductions of McEncroe’s orchestral works, granting the listener fascinating insight into the mind of the composer.
As devotees of McEncroe and his music will likely already know, he is a retired chef, and brings many of the aptitudes of that vocation into his work as a composer. In REFLECTIONS AND RECOLLECTIONS VOL. 3, McEncroe presents the raw ingredients used to concoct some of his greatest orchestral pieces—this time, in their most raw, unmitigated forms. Movements In The Night and Echoes From A Haunted Past, for example, were both previously released on McEncroe’s 2018 orchestral release, MY SYMPHONIC POEMS.
Somehow, these pieces retain their towering grandeur despite now being performed on solo piano. As is so often the case with recordings of this caliber, the dynamic arrangements and superlative performances on all of the pieces on this album create cavernous spaces which free the listener’s mind to hear the music beyond the piano itself. This album also features a movement from Natalie’s Suite, a three-movement work for piano and orchestra originally performed by the Janáček Philharmonic for McEncroe’s DARK CLOUDS IN LIFE. The music—arranged this time for solo piano—portrays the relationship between McEncroe and his daughter, Natalie. “Moving to the Light” is at once tumultuous and hopeful, a striking and beautiful representation of the complexities of the human experience.
Performed by pianist Van-Anh Nguyen, REFLECTIONS AND RECOLLECTIONS VOL. 3 captures in high fidelity the stark power of McEncroe’s compositions in their most naked, unadulterated forms. The music we hear not only provides a glimpse into the creative process that has led to so many powerful orchestral works; each piece stands wholly on its own, making for a powerful and memorable listening experience.
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Track Listing & Credits
|01||Images of Times Past||Mark John McEncroe||Van-Anh Nguyen, piano||6:18|
|02||Movements in the Night (Version for Piano)||Mark John McEncroe||Van-Anh Nguyen, piano||8:51|
|03||Echoes from a Haunted Past (Version for Piano)||Mark John McEncroe||Van-Anh Nguyen, piano||8:45|
|04||The Pendulum No. 2||Mark John McEncroe||Van-Anh Nguyen, piano||5:12|
|05||Natalie's Suite (3 Faces of Addiction): III. Moving Into the Light [Version for Piano]||Mark John McEncroe||Van-Anh Nguyen, piano||5:29|
|06||A Celtic Pagan's Pilgrimage||Mark John McEncroe||Van-Anh Nguyen, piano||6:37|
|07||A Parting of Ways||Mark John McEncroe||Van-Anh Nguyen, piano||7:59|
|08||Storm Clouds Approaching (Version for Piano)||Mark John McEncroe||Van-Anh Nguyen, piano||6:17|
|09||Natalie's Dilemma||Mark John McEncroe||Van-Anh Nguyen, piano||11:26|
|10||Balmy Summer Nights||Mark John McEncroe||Van-Anh Nguyen, piano||5:10|
Recorded January 25, February 15 & 18, 2019, at The Simon Leadley Scoring Stage, Trackdown Studios, in Sydney, Australia
Session Producer & Engineer Rose Mackenzie-Peterson
Mixing Evan McHugh at Trackdown Studios
Mastering Don Barley at Benchmark Mastering
All photos Trackdown Studios
Executive Producer Bob Lord
Executive A&R Sam Renshaw
A&R Director Brandon MacNeil
A&R Chris Robinson
VP, Audio Production Jeff LeRoy
Audio Director Lucas Paquette
VP, Design & Marketing Brett Picknell
Art Director Ryan Harrison
Design Edward A. Fleming
Publicity Patrick Niland, Sara Warner
Mark John McEncroe
Australian composer and classically trained pianist Mark John McEncroe writes for solo piano and orchestras of all sizes. His compositions have been performed throughout Europe, Australia, and the United States, with the biggest highlight to date being a concert at Carnegie Hall’s Stern Auditorium in February 2020.
Having started piano studies at the tender age of 13 months old, Australian-born pianist, composer, and TV host Van-Anh Nguyen maintains an intense global touring schedule across most continents.
I primarily work out all my compositions in full on the piano first including all my “intended orchestral works.” Those that go on to become a finished orchestral work are worked on by my orchestration colleague Mark J Saliba. I often do up rough orchestrations that he works from as well as the piano reduction, however in some cases he works exclusively on recreating the music from my piano reductions. On this particular solo piano album is the original piano reductions of Symphonic Poems Movements In The Night and Echoes From A Haunted Past. Both these works came out on my orchestral album MY SYMPHONIC POEMS. I wanted to put out the original piano reductions as well. Perhaps if anyone is interested it will give some insights as to my “exact composing/recording process” to see how my ideas come out in both piano and orchestral form. With me, when a piece of music starts developing in my head I know almost immediately if it will be strictly a solo piano work or if the piano reduction will eventually become an orchestral work.
On my album DARK CLOUDS IN LIFE, there is my three-movement work for piano and orchestra, Natalie’s Suite, recorded by the Janáček Philharmonic and one of my past piano teachers Helen Kennedy. On this album is the original piano reduction for the 3rd movement “Moving Into The Light.” The other two movements are very long so I didn’t think would be appropriate to include those reductions here. The orchestral version of Echoes From A Haunted Past is also on this album and was inspired by my struggles over past problems in my life which I have moved on from. Those problems were dealt with also in Natalie’s Suite, and were things my daughter, Natalie, and I have both had to come to terms with.
As a retired chef, much of my “creative juices” and instincts are that of a chef. I don’t apologise for that. The most sacred rule a chef follows is how to creatively use “leftovers” so as to keep food costs down. Often when writing bigger projects as piano reductions there is a lot of material that unfortunately ends up “on the cutting room floor.” My chef’s instincts kick in and I’m compelled to use the “leftovers” in some other form. This applies to the new Symphonic Poem, Natalie’s Dilemma where I was able to use up my leftovers. Natalie’s Dilemma and Natalie’s Suite actually all evolved from the original piano piece from my Volume 2 piano works Natalie’s Theme. Now I can rest easy; all the relevant material has been used, (food costs in good shape). Eventually Natalie’s Dilemma will be orchestrated too. For anyone curious enough, my daughter Natalie was the inspiration behind all these works.
On my earlier piano albums is a piece titled The Pendulum which I’m quite fond of. So I decided to do another similar piece in the same style, hence The Pendulum No.2. This and all the other pieces in this offering are examples of pieces fully intended as piano solo pieces when first written.
Especially orchestrated versions of “Storm Clouds Approaching” and “Dance Of The Pagans” (Piano Vol.2) have been now performed at Carnegie Hall in February 2020, and were well received by the audience.
Any idea that I try to fit into a particular genre, composer style, form, period is purely by coincidence only. For those intent on minimalising my musical efforts, well all I can say is I’m quite happy that you go off and listen to something else that takes your fancy, that’s not a problem for me. I don’t conform or follow; it’s just not in my nature, I just follow my gut instincts.
— Mark John McEncroe