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62 of 64 found the following review helpful:
A relaxing, soulful journey through your own secret garden..Jul 01, 2002
By S. Hodge
I first heard "Songs from a Secret Garden" playing in a music store eight years ago, and I was entranced from the very first note. The music was a blend of classical, Celtic and Norwegian, a stunning combination of piano, violin, orchestra and voice. It was unlike anything I'd ever heard before: deeply moving, relaxing, meditative, a journey to a secret garden, perfect music for reflection on a rainy day.
Secret Garden is made up of Norwegian composer Rolf Lovland on piano and Irish violinist Fionnuala Sherry. They have since released four other CDs: "White Stones," "Dawn of a New Century," "Dreamcatcher" (a best-of compilation taken from the first three releases), and "Once in a Red Moon," but for me "Songs from a Secret Garden" remains their masterpiece. It is by turns gentle, romantic, melancholy, playful and joyous. There is a Celtic element on some of the songs ("Sigma," with an Irish-language chorus and a boy soprano, "The Rap,"), but it is not as marked as their later releases, which to me sound like Riverdance imitations and have lost all of the "Secret Garden" magic for me. "Nocturne" features the stunning vocals of Gunnhild Tvinnereim, and this was the song that first catapulted Secret Garden to fame (it won the 1995 Eurovision song contest for Norway). My other favourite songs from the collection are "Songs from a Secret Garden" and "Sigma."
(I was lucky enough to pick up a copy of the sheet music to "Songs from a Secret Garden" and I play selections from it every day. The foreword is in English and Norwegian, and there are additional notes by Rolf regarding performance tips and inspirations behind the songs. If you play piano, this is a worthy investment for a Secret Garden fan. The collection features all thirteen songs from "Songs from a Secret Garden" and is available at their official website at www.secretgarden.no)
This is still a very popular album even though it was released in 1994: it is one of BMG Music Club's top-selling classical CDs, Barbara Streisand did a cover of "Heartstrings" for her wedding, adding lyrics and renaming it "I've Dreamed of You," and some of my favourite places in Québec City use "Songs from a Secret Garden" as background music (Aux Anciens Canadiens, 34 Rue Saint-Louis, Domaine Steinbach, 2205, chemin Royal
Saint-Pierre de l'Île d'Orléans).
This is the only CD I reach for after a long day. The stress just melts away and my spirits are lifted instantly. "Songs from a Secret Garden" is perfect for anyone seeking a quiet moment in their lives, a moment to reflect, dream, love, and explore their own secret garden.
24 of 24 found the following review helpful:
Solitude and TranquilityNov 24, 1999
This CD never fails to relax me after a lousy day at work. It is always soothing, not one harsh note or jarring moment. Even the more up-tempo "The Rap", the only really lively tune on the album, is a joyful celebration of life.
When I was choosing a selection of CDs to play during my son's waterbirth, I didn't hesitate to include this one for its calming, gentle sounds to help both my wife and myself to relax. Jonathan was introduced to the world with the beautiful strains of Secret Garden.
This is soul food. If you need to let it all out, this is the music.
38 of 41 found the following review helpful:
Excellent Production with Haunting MelodiesMay 11, 2000
By Abigail Perkins
"Abby "Reads Too Much" Perkins"
After hearing "Nocturne" on a local classical station I knew I HAD to pick this CD up. "Nocturne" is such an incredible acheivement, and being a songwriter myself, wish I could write something half as good. With Rolf Lovland on piano and Fionnuala Sherry on violin, the music to this song makes me weep with joy. Gunnhild Tvinnereim, the featured vocalist on "Nocturne", has one of the purest voices I have ever heard. The rest of the CD is almost as beautiful, and has the underpinings of both Norwegian and Celtic culture. Many times, listening to this fabulous music, I can picture myself on a cliff overlooking the wide, expansive Atlantic ocean, and each song brings to mind a different atmosphere to become part of.
40 of 45 found the following review helpful:
Songs from a Secret GardenJan 12, 2000
By Barbara LesStrang Baumann
I learned about this CD after reading about how Barbara Streisand heard the original instrumental version of what later became, "I've dreamed of you," the first song in her newest CD, "A Love Like Ours." She described hearing this lovely melody in a restaurant in Ireland and was so captivated by its beauty that later she asked Ann Hampton Callaway to write a lyric to it. She sang "I've dreamed of you" to her husband on their wedding day. I found the CD, Songs from a Secret Garden, thanks to Amazon.com. I ordered three CD's, they arrived yesterday and I haven't listened to anything since. This music is all that the other reviewers say it is and more. I plan to order more today. Each Christmas we select one CD and send it to many of our friends. Without a doubt, this will be our selection for 2000.
22 of 23 found the following review helpful:
MesmerizingNov 30, 1999
By Stephen M. Bickford
In a world of stress and noise I have found a CD so quieting, therapeutic, and rhapsodic that I can't get enough. I first heard it while getting a massage and found it so soothing that I went out right away to buy it. Almost every one of the tracks are this way. Money verrrry well spent. I'm giving some as Xmas gifts.
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