Favorite Icon, Full size
Album Review: Christmas Solitude
Bill Whitfield
Cover image of the album Christmas Solitude by Bill Whitfield
Christmas Solitude
Bill Whitfield
2012 / Bill Whitfield
66 minutes
Review by Kathy Parsons
Christmas Solitude, released in 2012, was pianist/composer/arranger Bill Whitfield’s debut CD and contains eighteen peaceful songs of the season performed in Whitfield’s trademark elegant style. The selection of songs includes traditional favorites (both religious and secular), a few less well-known pieces, and some originals. (No composer credits are given on the CD, so I’m not sure which songs are originals, but I know there are at least a few.) The album was recorded on Whitfield’s 7’ Steinway grand and the sound quality is beautiful.

Christmas Solitude begins and ends with arrangements of Vince Guaraldi’s classic “Christmastime Is Here” from A Charlie Brown Christmas. Always wistful and dreamy, Whitfield adds just enough melancholy to touch the heart and elicit a sigh. “What Child Is This?” is always a favorite, and Whitfield’s poignant arrangement is uncomplicated yet very effective. “Miracles” is a graceful, heartfelt original piece that has appeared on other albums. “Do You Hear What I Hear?” is given a stately, classical treatment even though it’s one of the newer songs - and it works very well! “Carol of the Bells” is one of my favorite Christmas songs and there are countless arrangements of it in a huge variety of musical styles. This one is fairly straightforward and fits into the context of the album beautifully. “O Come O Come Emmanuel” is flowing and somewhat lighter than it is often heard - a very nice arrangement! “Chestnuts” is actually “The Christmas Song” and subtitled “Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire,” a romantic modern classic. Whitfield adds a few jazzy touches in the middle, but this is mostly a very slow, sensuous ballad. “One Small Child” is a new piece for me and comes from a musical by the same name - a gentle yet powerful piece. The title track is another original composition, this one poignantly expresses the feeling of someone spending this most special of holidays alone. "I Wonder as I Wander" is a Christian folk hymn written by American folklorist and singer John Jacob Niles. The haunting melody is a wonderful piano solo and Whitfield plays it with deep emotion. “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” is played a little slower than usual, expressing the profound sadness of the lyrics without using any words. The closing arrangement of “Christmastime Is Here” is a little longer than the first one and is equally moving.

Christmas Solitude is a very beautiful solo piano Christmas album that is more reflective and peaceful than celebratory. Whitfield gives showmanship and virtuosity a back seat, choosing instead to create a calming mood. It is available from Amazon, iTunes, and CD Baby. Recommended!
October 24, 2016
More reviews of Bill Whitfield albums
Cover image of the album Serenity by Bill Whitfield
Cover image of the album Enchanted by Bill Whitfield
Cover image of the album Mystique by Bill Whitfield