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Album Review: An Enchanted Noel
Dan Kennedy
Cover image of the album An Enchanted Noel by Dan Kennedy
An Enchanted Noel
Dan Kennedy
2022 / Mt. Pollux Music
39 minutes
Review by Kathy Parsons
An Enchanted Noel is pianist/composer Dan Kennedy's seventh album and his first Christmas album. The twelve tracks include ten arrangements of traditional and pop Christmas songs and two original compositions. Reflective of the past couple of years, the music ranges from light-hearted and lively to quiet and introspective. I have been reviewing Dan's music since his 2007 debut, Lantern, and have always found that he brings a new and original touch to all of his music. He was the winner of a Global Music Award earlier this year and received the 2019 Enlightened Piano Radio Album of the Year Award for Mountains Made of Shadow, Anthems Made of Light. Dan is a classically-trained pianist who resides in rural Massachusetts and has performed in 21 US states (including Florence, OR!) and Quebec province in Canada.

An Enchanted Noel begins with an almost euphoric arrangement of "Angels We Have Heard on High," sharing the good news with joyful enthusiasm - a great start! Much quieter and more reflective, "In the Bleak Midwinter" includes an original variation of the melody in the middle of the track. Dan's isn't the first solo piano version of "Carol of the Bells" by any means, but his arrangement of the piece takes on a special meaning with the events of the past year. Composed in 1914 by Ukrainian composer Mykola Leontovych and originally titled "Shchedryk," it is also known as "The Ukrainian Bell Carol." Quoting Dan: "In the mournful way I play this I dedicate to the many millions of hearts and souls of Ukraine during this trying time." Very dark and very powerful, it's an amazing arrangement. One of the two original pieces on the album, "For Those Not Here" was composed for those we have lost during the past 2 1/2 years of pandemic. Heartfelt and beautifully nostalgic, it's a wonderful addition to the Christmas repertoire. "Holiday Medley" combines "God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen," "The Little Drummer Boy" and "What Child Is This?" to create a new setting for these beloved Christmas nuggets. "For Unto Us a Child Is Born" is Dan's arrangement of a piece from Handel's Messiah. "Sussex Carol" is an ancient English carol, but you'd never know it from Dan's joyfully upbeat, even jazzy, arrangement - a delight! "Of Snow and Stars" is the second Dan Kennedy original and was improvised in the studio. "I could just feel the snow and the stars glistening together, and this piece has a fresh contemplative sound that I just love." I do, too! Quiet and almost ambient, it evokes images that are delicate and very peaceful - my favorite track on the album. It seems fitting to then close the album with "White Christmas."

An Enchanted Noel is available from https://www.dankennedy.us (CDs as well as downloads), Amazon, Apple Music/iTunes and streaming sites such as Spotify. It is sure to brighten your holidays!
November 17, 2022
This review has been tagged as:
Holiday AlbumsHoliday Albums & Singles: 2022