Richard Carpenter

Pianist, Arranger, Composer, Conductor

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Richard Carpenter largely remained silent in the years following his sister Karen's death, releasing only one album in nearly 15 years. Ten years after the release of his solo debut, he returned with his second, the insturmental Pianist-Arranger-Composer-Conductor. The convoluted title may suggest that Carpenter is intent on restoring his reputation as a pianist, arranger, composer and conductor, and that suspicion would be correct. Selecting a variety of the Carpenters' best-loved songs ("Yesterday Once More," "Bless the Beasts and Children," "Top of the World," "We've Only Just Begun") and adding new material, including his tribute to his sister, "Karen's Theme," Carpenter has created a lush, symphonic record that flirts with straight-up easy listening. Of course, the Carpenters were never far removed from easy listening, but removing the vocals and the mild rock flourishes only confirms how sweet and gentle their music was. It also, as he intended, showcases his skills at arranging and, on occasion, composing, but anyone who listened to the original Carpenters records would know that already. In the end, the album is pleasant and enjoyable, but oddly inconsequential -- as it's playing, it sounds quite good, but it leaves no lasting impression other than the desire to listen to the duo's original records.

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