Contact Us    
Classical 'Piano Man'

CD Review: Fantasies & Delusions, solo piano music composed by Billy Joel.

by Mark D. Johnson
December 8, 2001

Bookmark and Share

Classical 'Piano Man'_Mark D. Johnson-CD Review: <i>Fantasies & Delusions</i>, solo piano music composed by Billy Joel. American composer William Joel, better known as Billy Joel, the pop-rock icon of the eighties, has released an album of original classical music for solo piano entitled Fantasies & Delusions. Though Joel is an accomplished rock pianist, the ten pieces are performed by concert pianist Richard Joo, giving this complex music the required sensitivity that only a classically-trained pianist can provide. One might expect this project to be a so-called “crossover” effort, permeated with pop-flavored melodies, but instead we find a serious collection of highly-listenable works that would fit right in with the programming on your local public radio station. This is real classical music that Joel has labored over for the last ten years, and the result is an album that can be taken seriously by classical buffs as well as appreciated by Joel’s fans who are open to the full range of the piano man’s expanding talent.

Joel’s classical music is clearly influenced by the Romantic compositions of Chopin and Rachmaninoff, and this may cause the more snobbish crowd to scoff and brush it off as “derivative.” It’s true that these works add nothing new to the classical canon, but who can name a truly original classical composer working today? Such critics would probably have more respect for dissonant experimentation, but instead of bowing to the pressure of “originality,” Joel has chosen to write music that pleases the ears of more casual classical listeners without appearing simplistic and ignorant of the Romantic elements of style.

Like Chopin, Joel offers a variety of style within the genre, from quiet introspection to swelling emotive phrasing to blazing technical fireworks. The pieces I enjoy the most are the three waltzes and the short, quick-tempo “Invention in C Minor” and “Sorbetto” from “Suite for Piano.” Only “Air,” which closes the album, carries a hint of a classic Billy Joel melody which could conceivably be adapted to a rock performance. While it still works as a classical piece, I’m glad this was not an album-wide trend. For the most part, the music on this album could easily be mistaken for the work of an accomplished nineteenth-century composer. Does that make this an artistic sin? Well, maybe, but I’m not complaining. No matter how you look at it, this is an impressive musical feat, performed extremely well by Joo.

There’s a story told about the late jazz alto saxophonist Gene Quill. After a gig, a guy from the audience came up to him and whined, “All you’re doing is playing just like Charlie Parker.” Gene held his sax out to him and replied, “Here, you play just like Charlie Parker!” Emulating artistic masters is no easy task, and when it is done well, we should all tip our hats. Fantasies & Delusions is highly recommended.

Post a Comment

Send Us Your Opinion
(Comments are moderated.)
Your Name:*

Your E-Mail Address:*
(Confidential. Will not be published.)


Note: In order to control automated spam submissions, URLs are no longer permitted in this form.

Please type the letters you see above.


Bookmark and Share

Sign up to receive an e-mail notice when new articles by this author are published. Your address remains confidential, and you may cancel at any time. A confirmation email will be sent.

Your e-mail address:
Classical 'Piano Man'
po Books
Now Available!

Teachings of a Three Year Old... Turned Tyke,
by Hal Evan Caplan.

A father learns from the wisdom of his toddler.

More Information.

More by Mark D. Johnson
An Interview with Greg Asimakoupoulos
Greg talks about his new book, Sunday Rhymes & Reasons.
by Mark D. Johnson, 7/8/09
An Interview with Dear Jon
Upon release of his first book.
by Mark D. Johnson, 7/21/08
Tales of Profundity: Life on Mars
by Mark D. Johnson, 10/20/07
Tales of Profundity: The Power of Prayer
by Mark D. Johnson, 9/24/07
Kurt Vonnegut Remembered
Farewell to a true original.
by Mark D. Johnson, 4/16/07
Coping with Reality TV
Reversing the downward spiral of unscripted television.
by Mark D. Johnson, 1/30/05
Back from Hiatus
Four new shows bring much-needed variety to television drama.
by Mark D. Johnson, 10/31/04
» Complete List (85)

Recently Published
View Article Nor Easter Alert
A troubling forecast for a nation in need of God
by Greg Asimakoupoulos, 3/16/18
A Tribute to Mister Rogers' Neighborhood
Looking back to where it all began PLUS; There Goes the Neighborhood
by Greg Asimakoupoulos, 3/9/18
A Prayer for the Washington State Legislature
Remembering Billy Graham's example
by Greg Asimakoupoulos, 3/2/18
A Sentry of the Past Century
Remembering Billy Graham; PLUS, Cross Words
by Greg Asimakoupoulos, 2/23/18
Another St. Valentine's Day Massacre
When will the craziness stop?
by Greg Asimakoupoulos, 2/16/18
Speaking of the Winter Olympics
A prayer for our athletes and our world
by Greg Asimakoupoulos, 2/9/18
A Call for Respect
Lessons from the State of the Union
by Greg Asimakoupoulos, 2/2/18

Get the Partial Observer's
'recently published' headlines via RSS.

RSS Feed for Recently Published PO Articles    What is RSS?

Reproduction of original material from The Partial Observer without written permission is strictly prohibited.
The opinions expressed by site contributors do not necessarily reflect those of the editors.
Copyright ©2000-2018 partialobserver.com. All rights reserved.
Home · Site Map · Top