Fantasies And Delusions: Music For Solo Piano

Billy Joel (Richard Joo, Pianist)

Sony Classical Records, 2001

REVIEW BY: Duke Egbert



ACT ONE. Scene: Two friends talking.

"Hey! Billy Joel has another Number One CD!"

"Really? Cool! Has he gone back to doing real rock and roll again like 'You May Be Right' or 'Stiletto'?"

"Um. Well. Not exactly."

"OK…so it's more retro stuff like 'Keeping The Faith' or 'River Of Dreams'?"

"Er. No, not exactly either. Listen, if you just let me ex…"

"I know! It's more adult pop like 'All About Soul' or 'This Is The Time', right? That's some decent stuff, too, though it's not as good as 'Only The Good Die Young'. How's that go again? 'Come on, Virginia, don't make me late…'"my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

"No, no, no! You're not listening! Can you stop mangling lyrics long enough to actually listen to it?"

"OK, cool! Put it on, dude!"

(A few moments pass.)

"Dude, what the hell is that ?"

(Exit all.)

ACT TWO: Reviewer explains what the hell that was.

I have always thought an adequate definition of success would be to have the money to do whatever you wanted. Certainly Billy Joel is a great example; after twenty-odd years of massive chart success, sellout tours, and induction into the Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame, he can now do whatever he wants. And apparently, what he wanted was to go to Vienna, write solo piano pieces, and have someone else play them. You go, Billy.

I'll be honest; I wasn't sure what to think of this CD (which was number one on Billboard's classical albums chart, by the way). Vanity projects are often just that; vanity, something a record label puts out because the musician in question has enough pull to get them to do it. But surprise, surprise: Fantasies And Delusions is elegant, spare, beautiful, and magnificent. Not since Alan Parsons' "Fall Of The House Of Usher Suite" or Yngwie Malmsteen's Opus Number One has there been a piece of such classical brilliance coming from the pen and mind of a rock musician.

This is a great piece of work. Richard Joo's performance is spare without being sparse and therefore perfect for Joel's compositions, which are simple without being uncomplicated. The production and engineering on the disc is flawless. Of special note are Joel's waltzes and his "Soliloquy (On A Separation)"; the music breathes with emotion and passion. If there is justice in the world, the classical music establishment will sit up and take notice. (Hell, Mozart wrote catchy tunes, too. Nothing says you can't do both.)

The answer to "what the hell is that "? Brilliance.

Rating: A

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



© 2002 Duke Egbert and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Sony Classical Records, and is used for informational purposes only.