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4.5 out of 5 stars
Winter Poem
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24 of 24 people found the following review helpful
on November 9, 2011
Format: Audio CDVerified Purchase
I've enjoyed past cds by Secret Garden and this is along the same. But I must say that I bought this one when I heard that Moya Brennan was on one of the songs. I buy all of her cds and the song she sings, DREAM, is fantastic!! Its a work of beautiful singing with inspiring lyrics and music. Another great song is POWERED BY NATURE and FIONNUALA'S COOKIE JAR will get you dancing or at least, foot tapping. The rest of the songs are those that will enable the listener to just sit back and relax and let the music take you away.
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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
on November 10, 2011
Format: Audio CD
I am fortunate to have this music as a result of a gift card from my husband (my birthday was yesterday). "Winter Poem" by Secret Garden contains themes of happiness and victory in the musical tracks. For example, "The Dream" (feat Moya Brennan) is a gorgeous musical story about going after your dreams regardless of how events may transpire. "Make A Wish" contains tranquil melodies and invokes a sense of relaxation and serenity. "Fionnuala's Cookie Jar" is an uplifting musical creation that contains a clever mix of celtic and new age melodies. The timing of the drums in "Fionnuala's Cookie Jar" adds even more of a fun rhythmic tone to the song. My overall favorite musical tune would have to be "Powered by Nature" (feat. Espen Grjotheim & Tracey Campbell). "Powered by Nature" is a powerful music mini-story that is about someone whose inner spirit is charged by the many beautiful creations of the outdoors. "Winter Poem" by Secret Garden is great for music lovers that listen to a variety of musical genres and/or those who are open to listening to new age music.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on December 11, 2011
Format: Audio CD
Each song of this album is somewhat like the re-creation of some old songs from their past albums. From the first piece to the last, if you have listened to their past ones, you will immediately get a feeling like this part is evolved from this song or that song. I can't agree with some of the reviews here noting that this is addition to the white stone. Actually it has no similarities to that album, instead quite a few melodies were inherited from the last album, earth songs. Rolf is definitely running out of his inspiration, and deeply trapped into his own past composition and formulas, that's why this group has gradually added vocals to their old songs to make money. If you never heard their past albums before, you might find this one is good and haunting. But if you compare it to their past classic ones, this one only deserves one-time listening, and 2 stars is the best rating I could give.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on December 31, 2011
Format: Audio CDVerified Purchase
As Hymn to Hope is one of my all time favorite Secret Garden tunes, I couldn't wait to put Winter Poem on my Christmas list for hubby to buy. I was NOT disappointed.

Unlike some, I see Winter Poem as a return to the creative joy that I felt at the beginning of listening to Secret Garden. I would have bought this CD simply for 'Mary's Lament'. The beauty of the tune and lyrics create a powerful song that explains the reason for Christmas to me. Yes, it is very much a Christian song, but rather than 'preachy' it simply states the true reason for this season with its beautiful lyrics by Brendan Graham. The combination of lyric to melody is a representation of light and dark that should resonate with even to those with other beliefs just as 'Powered by Nature' speaks to those who may not represent themselves as New Age. You don't have to agree with a sentiment to acknowledge the creative genius that goes into making it. In Winter Poem I hear and see the Irish leaving their home in The Dream while kicking up their heels to Finonnulala's Cookie Jar. And as always we have some of the gentle songs like Song For A New Beginning that leave me with the promise that no matter how dark my world, hope will eventually emerge.

This is a perfect musical card to winter. Curl up on your couch with a good book and let the music transport you as the cold and snow rage. You won't be disappointed. Secret Garden and its artists again reward us with a musical card and sense of renewal that will touch body and spirit.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on November 21, 2011
Format: MP3 MusicVerified Purchase
The tracks conveyed something that is truly universal. The "Song for a New Beginning" made me believe that anyone can relive his/her disconsolate moments like losing the beloved, having to travel away, or failing to meet everlasting goals... as long as you did live through those stories.

Things didn't stop there in the sorrow. You can always find the percussion or high-pitch notes that lead you to an uplifting status. That's the best part I always loved in Secret Garden. I found it never a hard thing to see through the "hope" hand in hand with the Irish melancholy. For this I thank the musicians, consciously or not they fulfilled what life stories gave us -- to pave the road underneath us so we can stand, walk, or even dance without any misgivings.

- C. Minos Niu
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on December 18, 2011
Format: Audio CD
This album confirms the tendencies that were evident to me on Earthsongs. Rolf Lovland is running out of ideas. On this album he even repeats some of the same melodic lines on several pieces, and the old magic of their best music is missing overall. I would rate this album as their worst so far.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on December 14, 2011
Format: Audio CD
People do seem to have a problem categorizing Secret Garden. I've found them filed over the years under Rock, Pop, Folk, World, New Age, Easy Listening and Classical. Wikipedia has them listed under Neoclassical performers, a type of New Age, but they are certainly Easy to Listen to, and the music is definitely influenced by Irish and (more recently) Chinese Folk music, and, I imagine, Norwegian too. It certainly isn't Rock, and it isn't Ambient in the way I understand Ambient. It is composed and structured; and it is sometimes played in stores and lifts. That puts many people off.

This review is really for those people like me who appreciated the early Neoclassical approach but found it steadily eroded as each album came out. 'Earthsongs', the last 'real' SG release, seemed to be pushing a specifically Christian message in the place of the 'World peace and love' of previous works (The Christianity in 'You Raise Me Up', from the album before it, is very subtly limited to the St Francis imagery in the line 'I am strong when I am on your shoulders', a reference that few non-Christians would recognize); as a non-practising Christian I felt I was being preached to, and avoided Earthsongs' songs in favour of the instrumental tracks. In that area there was also a very deliberate broadening of style, far removed from the first album's uniformity: remove 'The Rap' from 'Songs From a Secret Garden' and you have 40 minutes or so of some of the most beautiful chill out music I know. I understand the need to diversify, but even apart from the lyrics, 'Earthsongs' didn't quite do it for me. (See my review, 'Not their best, but...' on amazon.co.uk).

That was 2005 and I thought I would find out by 2007 if the muse had gone; but here we are, six years after Earthsongs, with 'Inside I'm Singing' the only official SG release in the interim; and if your opinion of SG's career isn't too different from mine, you'll join me in passing over that particular project. I checked out the SG website from time to time, but was caught out by the release of 'Winter Poem'. (In the Northern hemisphere. Those below the equator have to wait until their winter to get it!) I've bought every SG release so far, but I was far from sure I wouldn't be throwing my money away on this one, and the reviews didn't inspire me: it isn't a criticism of the 4 and 5 star reviewers to date to say that I suspect many of them like SG for different reasons to me. Also, the group's website states that the new album was "arranged for symphony", which suggested that it might not have the simplicity of their best work. So I spun it up, and...

...liked it from the opening notes!

It's a very clear production, it's very well played, and it's a clear return to an earlier style: I would agree with another reviewer and say it strongly recalls 'White Stones'. Based on a couple of plays, it doesn't reach the highs of 'White Stones', but it is the first SG release since that album to hit the button right on the nose, on several tracks, first time. This might even have been a conscious decision: compare the titles, 'Winter Poem', 'White Stones'. Pretty similar, with the vowels - ie oe - identical. Probably a coincidence, but a telling one.

The downside? The lyrics of some of the songs remain explicitly Christian, one of them is preachingly ecological, and I just don't like any of them. I love Irish airs and ballads (Planxty, The Bothy Band etc), and like all of the singers' voices on this disc, but these songs just grate on me. I've found that with repeated plays the same effect on some of SG's songs on the last 2 or 3 releases has worn off a little, and I've even got to be a little fond of one or two of them, but on this album I'm more inclined to play the six more traditional 'Songs From Secret Garden' - the instrumentals. So one star off.

And that leaves the album's last track, 'Suite: Prelude, Intermezzo, Polka'. Say what? A suite? Fourteen and a half minutes long? SG rarely step outside of 5 mins; their longest to date has been the title track from 'Dawn Of A New Century', at 6:33, so in length at least, this is something of a departure. And otherwise? Well, no, it even references 'Nocturne' from the first album. After a couple of plays it seems a bit fuller than the rest of the album, and obviously longer, but in style very much trademark SG.

As per my comment under Q. Zhao "silentwings" review, I disagree that this is formula music. The arrangement, strings, piano, violin, is common to much of their work, but Chopin based most of his career on just one of those instruments, and Satie wrote more than one Gymnopedie. Self-reference is commonplace in art, and I've always felt that much of SG's work is just that, 'art'. Simple, polished, (usually) unpretentious, art. 'Winter Poem' is more of the same. Enjoy!
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on December 17, 2011
Format: Audio CDVerified Purchase
I agree completely with the reviewer who regards Winter Poem as "formulaic and predictable." It is as if there is an inverse correlation between Secret Garden's fame and their unique magic. As the one rises ...... the other falls. It isn't that the album is bad ..... never that ..... but it is ordinary in the overall. Here and there one can almost find a trace of what once was a special creative quality, but it dissolves into ...... sameness. To me Secret Garden is now too successful, almost corporate, and the magic has died.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on November 8, 2011
Format: Audio CDVerified Purchase
With so many buautiful songs,secret garden take another breath-taking album coming to usCrecommend the all songs to you.
You never regret buying itITrust meCa Chinese fan enjoying their music for more than 13 years!!
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12 of 17 people found the following review helpful
on November 22, 2011
Format: Audio CDVerified Purchase
I have a few of Secret Garden's older CDs and it seems like if you've listened to the others, then you've heard Winter Poem before. It's almost like there is a formula for writing a Secret Garden song and there can only be variations on that formula. Each song reminded me of another, older song. The music is still beautiful, but I was expecting something more novel and inspiring.
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Earthsongs
Earthsongs by Secret Garden (Audio CD - 2005)

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