2018 / Grumpy Monkey Music
Review by Kathy Parsons
Charles Denler’s Noel is a collection of nine Christmas carols “with some variation.” Most of the arrangements are for solo piano, but there are strings added to a couple of tracks (Richard Niezen plays bass and cello). While the arrangements are updated, personalized and very beautiful, none of them are “too different” for more traditional tastes. The music can easily slip into the background for some holiday “mood music,” but give your ears a treat and listen to the music with full attention at least a few times! I like Denler’s comment on the back cover of the album: “The album is 24 minutes long, representing the December calendar leading up to Christmas Eve (my favorite day of the year!)”
Charles Denler is an Emmy Award-winning composer with a long and very impressive list of credits and awards for film and television music as well as for his recordings and commissions for piano and orchestra (with and without piano).
Noel begins with a lovely arrangement of “O Little Town.” Keeping it simple with piano and strings, Denler paints a peaceful picture of of a humble setting awash in moonlight. “What Child” is a spare but elegant piano solo with short, graceful interludes between verses - very serene. “Silent Night” has a bit more “variation on the theme” than some of the other songs, but is definitely recognizable - also very calming and soothing. The title track is not familiar, so I assume it’s an original piece. I hear short snippets of a few other carols - including “The First Noel” - so it fits right in. “Joy To All” is a buoyant take on “Joy To the World” that all but dances out of the music player - I really like this one! “Coventry Carol” has always been one of my favorite carols, and the addition of strings to the piano makes it even more haunting and compelling - even a bit mysterious. Love it! “Let Us Adore” is a gentle solo piano arrangement of “O Come All Ye Faithful,” again with beautiful variations on the theme. “We Three Kings” is one of a handful of carols that work wonderfully well with a wide variety of musical treatments. Denler gives it a jazzy/gospel makeover as “Three Kings” that is lively and fun while keeping the melody (mostly) intact. “Hark The Herald” returns to a quieter, more subdued style and brings this beautifully expressive album to a close.
Noel is available from www.purplepiano,com (Denler’s site), Amazon, iTunes and CD Baby. Check it out - it’s a holiday treat!
October 23, 2018