12 Songs, 1 Hour


Ratings and Reviews

KathyPiano7 ,

From MainlyPiano

"River Flow - Sanctuary" is the long-awaited sequel to Catherine Marie Charlton’s 2001 release, "River Dawn." "River Dawn" was conceived as background music and not intended for close, focused listening. I have listened to "River Flow" with full attention as well as in the background and have found that it stands up beautifully to either type of listening - or a combination of the two. A continuous one-hour solo piano improvisation, there are track listings and titles for twelve segments, but the CD plays as one uninterrupted piece. Staying focused while improvising for a full hour has to be extremely difficult, but the music unfolds effortlessly and naturally without areas that lag or seem out of place. The remarkable thing about this album is how calming and soothing it is without being simplistic. Parts of the music are more complex and vibrant than others, but the themes flow together seamlessly, allowing the music to evolve at its own pace. Charlton is a composer/pianist with an extensive background in classical music and jazz as well as new age stylings, bringing a wealth of musical as well as life experience to her music and creating a unique musical voice in a very large world of solo pianists.

Charlton explains in the liner notes that after recording the music, she lived with it for months before deciding to make this the take to release. She explains: “After listening hundreds of times in the baby’s nursery and in the car, I came to realize that when I hear the music, I feel a calm wave come over me and I feel protected and safe - I have entered a ‘Sanctuary’ as it were - moments of peace amongst the chaos of motherhood.” I was surprised to read this after listening to the album several times and feeling that same “calm wave” - a most pleasant sensation! The music also extends a warm and welcoming invitation to breathe, to release, and to just be for awhile.

"River Flow - Sanctuary" is truly an exceptional listening experience, and one that I highly recommend. Great stuff!

MDiamond ,

Review excerpt from Music and Media Focus

In 2012, Catherine released a re-mastered and re-packaged 10th Anniversary Edition of her best- selling River Dawn: Piano Meditations. A one-hour uninterrupted solo piano performance, the original release debuted at number 3 on the NAR radio charts. Her new album, River Flow: Sanctuary is actually a sequel to this earlier release. This one follows the same format with the music created spontaneously as one continuous 60-minute performance. Although there are track markers sprinkled throughout to reference different sections of the improvisation. It’s an interesting format in that the markers make it seem like there are separate songs each with its own name and inspiration. However, it is as they say, “all one.” Because the music is meant to be experienced as one piece, I’ll refrain from referencing individually named sections as “songs” like I usually would, and will focus on the bigger picture of the album.

I agree with a description of Catherine’s music from a review on her website that says: “Her music ranges from meditative soundscapes to robust sweeping crescendos with hints of the avant-garde and 20th Century classical abstraction.” The “sanctuary” aspect, as reflected in the title, is like a sonic scent that wafts throughout the performance. Given that, I could see this album having wide appeal for its tranquil, yet evocative flow. While I enjoyed actively listening to it for its detail and nuance, it could also create a perfect ambience for massage, yoga, relaxation, an intimate dinner, etc. There is a nurturing quality to her evolving melodies that listeners will resonate with on an emotional level. On this note, perhaps Catherine should have the last word: “My wish for you is that the music becomes your Sanctuary – a safe place to remember to breathe, to release, and to just be.”

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