2006 / Far Away Music Corp.
The Christmas Piano
is a wonderful instrumental collection of favorite Christmas songs, some arranged as piano solos and others for piano with orchestrations, performed by Debbie Fortnum with the help of Chris Janz. In addition to being a singer/songwriter/pianist, Fortnum is an inspirational speaker, ministry leader, wife of a pastor, and mother of three. In addition to her two instrumental albums, she has recorded several spoken-word and vocal CDs. Her two piano albums are exceptionally good, so we’ll hope she continues the series. While there are officially seventeen tracks on The Christmas Piano
, many are medleys, bringing the song total to twenty-seven. Some are high-energy, and some are peaceful and serene. Not as boisterous as Mannheim Steamroller, but a bit more spirited than David Lanz’s “Christmas Eve” - a very nice balance to these ears. The Christmas Piano
has been nominated for a Covenant Award (one of the highest Canadian music awards) as Seasonal Album of the Year, and “The Music of Emmanuel” has been nominated as Seasonal Song of the Year. The awards will be announced the end of October (2007).
The opening medley of “I Saw Three Ships” and “Good Christian Men Rejoice” fairly dances out of the CD player. Exuberant and full of joy, this is a great beginning! Fortnum then pairs a darkly delicious arrangement of “God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen” with her own “March of the Camels,” interweaving the melodies seamlessly. The medley of “Away In a Manger” and “Silent Night” is a sweet piano solo that keeps the arrangements simple and heartfelt. “Carol of the Bells” adds drama to any Christmas collection, with its dark, haunting energy, and this version is no exception - a great arrangement! An equally haunting but more serene “What Child Is This?” follows, arranged for piano and strings. “A Thousand Candles” is a new Christmas song for me, and it’s a beautiful Swedish carol presented as a piano solo. “O Christmas Tree” is one of the simplest of Christmas songs, and Fortnum stays true, keeping embellishments to a minimum and letting the melody sing. “O Holy Night” is richly orchestrated but again lets the heartfelt melody sing rather than smothering it with too many instrumental voices. “Deck the Halls”/”We Wish You A Merry Christmas” is a sprightly piano solo - short, sweet, and lighthearted. “O LIttle Town of Bethlehem”/”It Came Upon the Midnight Clear” is an elegant piano solo, full of love and peace. The closing “bonus” track is an original vocal piece called, “The Music of Emmanuel,” which could become a future classic carol.
The Christmas Piano
is one of the best Christmas albums I’ve heard in several years. I really like the variety of stylings and the selection of carols is excellent. There are no “Jingle Bells” or Santa songs, but if the spiritual side of Christmas is more to your liking than the commercial, pop end of things, this will be an addition to your collection that you’ll return to year after year. Check it out at www.farawayworship.com
or cdbaby.com. Cheers!