Michael Whalen

My Secret Heart: Romantic Meditations for Ambient Piano

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As this simply rendered collection of tender melodic musings -- subtitled "Romantic Meditations for Ambient Piano" -- proves, there's often a deeper musical heart behind the more commercial work of modern musicians. Michael Whalen's Emmy-winning music can be heard on over 350 television and film projects and thousands of commercials. His best-known composition is the theme to Good Morning America, and he has done dozens of scores for HBO, National Geographic, Discovery, and PBS -- all of which have little whatsoever to do with the mood-setting mixture of melancholy and optimism he creates on this emotionally revealing collection. The odd thing about this kind of project is that there's not a huge amount of movement in each track or from tune to tune, merely a somehow cohesive gathering of impressionistic patches. There are moments of darkness ("Two as One") followed shortly by light ("Addicted to You"), usually distinguishable by what end of the piano Whalen's chords are playing. There's a feeling of the sacred in the echo-laden production, and a sense of mining the depths of the murky ocean, reactions that seem open to each listener's interpretations. The release of such a project proves that Narada, for all its expansion into other genres, has never relinquished the new age heart it began with -- and most likely, massage therapists (and others in the healing arts) around the world will be eternally grateful.

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