Patrick Burke | The Butler's Bullfinch

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Classical: New Age Avant Garde: Classical Avant-Garde Moods: Type: Instrumental
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The Butler's Bullfinch

by Patrick Burke

Part I of The Bullfinch Trilogy–Engaging and melodic solo piano, dramatic and uplifting, with a touch of humor.
Genre: Classical: New Age
Release Date: 

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  Song Share Time Download
1. Grand Prairie
3:21 $0.99
2. A Working Knowledge of Irony
1:50 $0.99
3. The Friendly Others
2:32 $0.99
4. Juliette Considers
2:21 $0.99
5. Faith vs. Reason
7:05 $0.99
6. Grandfather Forever
3:17 $0.99
7. Portland with Rain
2:27 $0.99
8. Joni Mitchell
3:03 $0.99
9. The Swamps of Obscurity
3:36 $0.99
10. Grand Prairie Revisited
1:14 $0.99
11. Mozart In Sardinia
1:07 $0.99
12. Home Again
3:45 $0.99
13. Union Ballet
6:17 $0.99
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.


Album Notes
Composer and fine-art photographer Patrick Burke's CD of original solo piano compositions cheerfully entitled The Butler's Bullfinch consists of memorable melodies played in a simple and very accessible style. There is also an element of humor and playfulness to Burke's music which is in short supply among his solo piano contemporaries. An eight-page booklet included with the CD features Burke's fine-art skills with a photo illustration for each of the 13 tracks. A bust of Mozart confidently seated in an empty sardine can corresponds to his neoclassical Mozart In Sardinia. The title of the CD and several of the tracks were inspired by writer P.G. Wodehouse. “Like other composers I write beauty and drama, but I also believe there's never enough humor in the world and I'm not afraid of writing songs that are overtly happy” says Burke.



to write a review

Kathy Parsons

Fun piano music!
Combining careers as a fine-art photographer and composer, Patrick Burke has created a collection of thirteen original piano solos paired with his own photographs to illustrate them. Cheerfully titled “The Butler’s Bullfinch,” the striking cover artwork and unusual name are immediate indications that this CD is going to be something different. Burke’s goal is to have a gallery opening where the photographs are on display and he is playing the piano solos that go with them. Most of the photos are ironic and humorous, and the music also has a whimsical sense of humor; some of the pieces are downright funny. Several of the pieces are reminiscent of the easier piano work of Haydn and Mozart, and some are waltzes, so there is a very classical feel about the album even though the most of the music is lighthearted.

The CD opens with “Grand Prairie,” a slightly bittersweet piece that is paired with a black and white photo of a woman in a long dress and hat walking a horse across a huge expanse of land with clouds floating across the endless sky. This song seems to have a sense of longing but also of moving forward, and then it just ends. One of my favorites is “The Friendly Others.” A joyous and playful waltz, it sounds like a blast to play. The accompanying photo is of a figure of a yellow with black dots creature seated in the foreground, with three busts of Mozart lined up as if they are looking at it. “Faith vs. Reason” is a three-movement work that is a bit darker and more serious. I also like “Grandfather Forever,” a slow waltz that moves with the heaviness of an elderly man, but also evokes humor and happiness. The photo is of an empty park bench overlooking a vast canyon with light streaming from between the purple clouds. Another favorite is “Joni Mitchell,” which has an infectious, happy energy. The photo is of a huge umbrella shielding a chrome escalator from the rain. “Mozart in Sardina” is a bit of musical silliness that always evokes a smile. The photo shows a bust of Mozart placed in a sardine can!

“The Butler’s Bullfinch” is quite an unusual and very enjoyable concept album. Kudos to Patrick Burke for injecting some lighthearted good humor into the world!

Geoffrey Hamilton

Friendly and gently humerous.
Someone once asked Einstein to name THE most important question; he replied that it was whether or not the universe was friendly. Patrick Burke's part of the universe is definitely friendly, and gently humerous. If music sets the mood, his compositions set the stage for stellar performances of light, melodic irony; and the artwork complements the music beautifully.

Vicky Heintzman

Very substantive and engaging material, relaxing and intriguing.
The music is not only relaxing but intriguing. Having pictures which correspond to each piece makes for a more
imaginative listening experience. And the titles add to this immensely.

I especially enjoy the fact that Burke's music includes a sense of humor. This alone sets him apart from any other New Age artist I've listened to. I'm very curious about what he'll do next.

The connection to P.G. Wodehouse and the quotation by Stephen Fry in the liner notes make this a unique musical statement. Like Wodehouse,
Burke deals with simple ideas but ends up with some very substantive and engaging material.

LB Vee

I have been training for the Hood to Coast for several months and have Bullfinch on heavy rotation on my iPod. Thank you, PB, for giving me a diverse soundtrack for my evening jogs. The tempo of each track defines my gait, adds background to the sound of my footfalls on the blacktop as I zone through the flatland of the Willamette Valley. My extended network of acquaintances have also been exposed to Bullfinch, so don't be surprised if other area joggers come to you for inspiration or with kudos.

RJ Lannan

The Answer to Every Murder Mystery
You don’t need a degree in English Literature or Modern Art to appreciate Patrick Burke's album The Butler's Bullfinch . Let your sense of humor be your guide. His solo piano music has strong neo-classical overtones with some decided lightness at times. With references to characters by English humorist P.G. Wodehouse, composer Burke shows an unusual sense of humor with an artist's uncanny ability to mix media, fusing his remarkable talents in his notable visual art as well. His cover and liner art is as distinctive and thought provoking as his piano compositions.

Burke starts out with a wonderfully pensive tune called Grand Prairie. Like a musical score that might you hear while you are going through a box of dusty Depression Era sepias, the music is light and tentative. You can see the heartbreak in the timeworn faces of the subjects. There is powder and wind and faded colors as the struggle for survival goes on continuously. Only faith and hope will survive. It is a great beginning to some unique music. The tune has a remarkable reprise else where on the album.

Melancholy is the term I use to describe the song Juliette Considers. It is the sad sound of hope balancing on the head of a pin. Burke suggests a rather fragile situation as, musically, options are weighed, choices are contemplated and difficult decisions are finally made. It is one of my favorites on The Butler's Bullfinch.

Faith Vs. Reason and its accompanying movements Adam & Eve and Down Reprise are a bit dramatic in scope. The tune is very strong as the musician ponders what action must be taken, but more importantly, for what motive. It is the moral high ground that is achieved in this weighty, almost dark exploration. For me it was the best cut on the CD.

Friendly Others is an incredibly cheerful number that will have children laughing and dancing, clowns tumbling and spirits rising. It sometimes feels like a practice piece and at other times stands on its own as a whimsical adventure soundtrack. I finally decided that is it has a "Wallace and Grommet" feel. Very different. Now we’re having fun!

In the tune The Swamps of Obscurity there is a tense drama unfolding in the form of musical notes. There is a dirge-like quality to the music that leaves hope and sanity somewhere behind as we journey to a deep, dark place. It is a dimension visited often by writers, artists and musicians. We sometimes have so much self-doubt that we loose sight of reality and, somewhere in between there and here we find our most creative moments. I like this tune and, at the same time fear it greatly.

Check your watch, wind your clock, and turn over your hourglass because once you hear Union Ballet you will realize that it has the ability to slow down time. It is an elaborate tune that ticks off time on little musical fingers, forward back and forward again until you are dizzy with bewilderment and
wondering "Where is my starting point?" After you have journeyed into a anachronistic world it will have you wondering where does the time really go?

I don’t think anyone would allow Patrick Burke to forget that he was once in a band called Parasite of the Western World. See how time changes everything. Patrick now focuses on his photographic career as well as his wonderfully edifying solo piano compositions. The Butler’s Bullfinch along with Narcissus Reflects is part of Burke’s Bullfinch Trilogy. Patrick’s music is, if anything, piquant. It adds a bit of spice to life and zest to the spirit. And don't forget that it is always fun. It is so enjoyable that we can handle extra portions. Oh, and if you want to know whodunit, Ask Jeeves!

Rating: Very Good -

- reviewed by RJ Lannan on 6/9/2006


Peter Honeyman

Unusually creative through its overall presentation
This disc is so unusual in that it expresses the professional skill of the composer, not only as a musician, but in his understanding of the benefit of and his ability in capturing his audience in their enjoyment of the totality of his artistic expression. This is not simply music to listen to. It is far better appreciated by simultaneous study of the graphics and the stimulating thoughts these generate with the changing moods of his compositions. Burke exhibits professional, creative and artistic skills, modesty and a uniquely engaging subtle humor.

I do not agree with the notes to the CD that Burke's work is similar to Geo Winston - that belies his own particular style. Patrick's original all-encompassing presentation is not just yet another disc, not just engaging music, it is a uniquely "total" artistic experience.