Fantasies and Delusions (2001)

1. Opus 3. Reverie (villa D'Este) 2. Opus 2. Waltz #1 (Nunley's Carousel) 3. Opus 7. Aria (Grand Canal) 4. Opus 6. Invention in C Minor 5. Opus 1. Soliloquy (On a Seperation) 6. Opus 8. Suite for Piano-I. Innamorato 7. Opus 8. Suite for Piano-II. Sorbetto 8. Opus 8. Suite for Piano-III. Delusion 9. Opus 5. Waltz #2 (Steinway Hall) 10.Opus 9. Waltz #3 (For Lola) 11.Opus 4. Fantasy (Film Noir) 12.Opus 10.Air (Dublinesque)


I'm not a fan of classical music. That's not to say I don't like classical music, it's just that I'm not a fan of it. What I mean by that is that I can't sit down and listen to various pieces by various composers and point out nuances, styles and what differentiates one composer from another. I know classical music when I hear it, and I know that overall I find it very pleasant and soothing. For the most part, I don't actually listen to the music itself, yet I use it for creating atmosphere and/or background. If I'm having a get together with friends, the situation just might call for a nice classical CD to play for ambiance.

So it's really difficult, and even unfair, to actually review a piece like this. To be honest, I haven't even listened to it enough to be able to distinguish one track from another. This is Joel playing classical piano with no accompaniment and no singing (actually, Joel wrote the pieces, yet he has a classically trained pianist to actually play the pieces). The songs are all pleasant, but about halfway through a listen, I really have no desire to keep this thing on any longer since it all sounds the same to me. Unless, of course, my party is still going.

Joel was very honest about his desires when he retired from pop music. He let the world know that this was the direction that he wanted to explore. When looking back at his history, it's plain to see that his work was already somewhat influenced by classical music. It runs through several of his pieces such as The Ballad of Billy the Kid, Until the Night and the aptly titled Where's the Orchestra?. When you listen to the songs here, it's obvious that it is Joel - he's not necessarily trying to distinguish himself that much from what he's already done.

He really does deserve to be commended for this move. He had conquered Top 40 radio probably better than anyone else during his stay on the charts and basically retired before he fell too far from the top of his game. It was obvious to everyone, including Joel, that this thing wasn't going to sell that much anyway, and most of the sales were due to curiosity more than anything else. So kudos to The Piano Man for trying something new. One wonders, though, if he'll ever put out another similar recording. One also has to wonder if any of his fans that bought the album listen to it with any degree of regularity as they might listen to The Stranger or An Innocent Man, however.

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