“Storm” reviewed by Cathy Oakes

Tim Neumark’s newest CD, “Storm,” is a step away from his usual style. I have enjoyed all four of Tim’s previous CD’s immensely. “Opus Four” is a particular favorite of mine. However, this CD conveys a depth of emotion that I have not heard from him before. His skill and style with the keyboard are so pleasing to the ear. He flows with such ease and beauty. But this CD, while not biographical, takes the listener on a shared human journey. It ventures through the expression of the very human emotions of love, longing, joy, sadness, despair and yet leaves one with a sense of ultimate hope.
Most of the pieces are in minor keys. For this fellow composer, I found that I was not looking forward to that. I have a very difficult time writing in minor keys and much prefer the “happier” sounding major keys. However, as I listened, I realized that what I expected to sound morose and brooding did not! Granted, there are touches of that – and beautiful touches, I might add. But the overall effect of this deeply emotional music comes across as being genuine, “real,” honest and very human.
The CD begins with “Anticipation.” Neumark sets the mood in the first six notes, building suspense. The theme is repeated in different variations and returns to a simple statement of the original, anxious theme. It is the perfect opening to this CD. “Ice” follows in the second track. This piece, I found truly chilling. It brought visions of desolate beauty.
Track three, “See You Soon” is one of my personal favorites. I love the poignant melody in this piece. I must admit that Tim gave me a sneak preview of this track as he was writing it. I was instantly hooked by the almost haunting melody, his sensitive development of the song and the return to that beautiful, bittersweet, yet hopeful theme at the end of the piece.
It is followed by another favorite, “Setting Sail.” I’m a sucker for a good triplet pattern. And Neumark uses this masterfully to create a sense of movement. The rhythm is almost driving with beautiful, subtle chord changes. It crests with rich, textured chords and then brings the listener safely to shore with the return of the triplet pattern and melody floating above.
Track five, “Stolen” is, indeed dark and brooding with a sense of longing. But tucked amidst the surrounding tracks, it is the perfect contrast and beautifully expresses the darker side of human emotion. “Meditation” is so quietly beautiful. It is reflective and almost reverent.
The title track, “Storm” is just what I expected from the name. It is turbulent and sometimes brooding. Tim uses dissonance to its maximum advantage in this piece, building to a beautiful ferocity. It has its quiet moments. But even in those, there is an underlying anticipation of the coming crashes. I found myself thinking of the expression and style of Beethoven throughout this piece. “Forgiveness” was another of my picks. It is tender, just like its name and conveys a progression through many stages, coming to final rest.
The final track, “Peace” brings a beautiful end to a very real and beautiful human journey with the floating melody and its simplicity, expressing that in the end, we come through the “Storm” and find that final place of “Peace.”
The storms of life are a shared journey. And Tim Neumark has taken us on a beautiful guided tour of that journey with “Storm.” Excellent work of art, Mr. Neumark! I give this work 5 out of 5 stars and highly recommend it to the listener. Put this wonderful CD in, put your walking shoes on and travel with Tim, from beginning to end, through the “Storm.”