The Australian self-professed “easy listening” composer Mark John McEncroe has made a name for himself in the orchestral world with his audience-friendly and pleasantly digestible output. In this latest release, several piano works by McEncroe have been orchestrated by Mark J Saliba – also an Australian composer – to comprise the selection of Musical Images heard on the recording.
This music is not trying to be anything other than what it is: gentle and welcoming. While some contemporary composers writing in older Romantic styles still feel pressured to insert some sort of newness into their music, resulting in a confusing clash of aesthetic commitment, McEncroe delivers a straightforward and unburdened nostalgia to the listener. Nevertheless, we still receive contrast throughout the 11 movements.
At times playful, foreboding, heartwarming, and reassuring, the music does in fact lead the listener on a journey – albeit a highly protected one. There is a filmic quality to McEncroe’s style, an attribute that is furthered by titles such as Natalie’s Theme, Floating Lilies and A Rainy Summer’s Day. This quality perhaps leaves the listener wanting to experience these missing images alongside the music; in contrast to profoundly written program music where the extra-musical elements are so deeply provided in the music, one does not require them in any other form. With that in mind, this disc is perfect for a rainy day with a book, or a relaxing afternoon by the fire.