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Album Review: Hymns - Healing Piano Solos
Greg Maroney
Cover image of the album Hymns - Healing Piano Solos by Greg Maroney
Hymns - Healing Piano Solos
Greg Maroney
2016 / Greg Maroney Music, LLC
61 minutes
Review by Kathy Parsons
Greg Maroney has mentioned over the past several years that he has had many requests for an album of hymns and the time was finally right to make that happen. This collection of fourteen piano solos includes some of the most beloved “church music” of all time, including Pachelbel’s “Canon in D,” Schubert’s “Ave Maria,” and the American classic “Amazing Grace.” Some of Maroney’s arrangements have original interludes woven into the songs, but all are in his expressive, lyrical style that emphasizes the beauty of the melodies and the emotional content of each song. These are older, traditional hymns that most people are familiar with, so if you love beautiful solo piano played from the heart, you’ll love Hymns - Healing Piano Solos!

Hymns - Healing Piano Solos opens with “Amazing Grace.” It begins with a simple accompaniment to the venerable melody and then becomes a heartfelt improvisation/variation, returning to a graceful simplicity for the closing verse - gorgeous! “O The Deep, Deep Love of Jesus” is one of my favorite hymns, and Maroney infuses this darkly passionate song with deep emotion and meaning - an amazing arrangement and my favorite piece on the album. “Take My Life and Let It Be” is much lighter and Maroney plays it in a fairly traditional hymnal style. Maroney has created a lovely arrangement of “Canon in D” that fans of this song will love. “Be Thou My Vision” has become a very popular piano solo, and Maroney gives it a contemporary make-over that flows beautifully and includes a wonderful interlude in the middle. “For the Beauty of the Earth” is another favorite, and I especially like the original middle section which is reverent, graceful and joyful all at the same time. “Simple Gifts” was originally a Shaker song that American composer Aaron Copland used in his score for Appalachian Spring. There is something very American about this song and Maroney captures that quality in his arrangement. When Cat Stevens had a big hit with “Morning Has Broken” back in 1971, I remember being shocked to discover that the song was actually a hymn, not a contemporary folk-rock song. Maroney updates it by another forty-five years as a gently-flowing piano solo that expresses a peaceful mind and a thankful heart. “Be Still My Soul” seems to be a very popular hymn among pianists and Maroney’s arrangement is right up there among the best, expressing deep emotion and inserting an original interlude that makes the arrangement even more personal. I can’t imagine a more beautiful ending to this album than Maroney’s seven-minute arrangement of Franz Schubert’s “Ave Maria.” The haunting melody sings out over the rolling broken chords of the left hand, touching the soul in a way that words never can.

I think I’ve been saying for about fifteen years that Greg Maroney and his music just keep getting better. One of my very favorite pianist/composers for almost that long, I really appreciate that he is letting his music take him in some very different directions now that he has more time to devote to it. This is a great collection of solo piano hymns, and I highly recommend it! Hymns - Healing Piano Solos is available from GregMaroney.com, Amazon, iTunes, and CD Baby.
July 13, 2016
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