The Gift of Christmas
2019 / Joseph Nimoh
Review by Kathy Parsons
The Gift of Christmas is a beautiful EP by pianist/composer Joseph Nimoh that features two versions of each of four favorite Christmas carols - a solo piano version and an arrangement for piano and strings (live - not digital!). While the arrangements are fairly traditional, Nimoh’s expressive, personal touches dust off these Christmas gems and make them bright and shiny again.
The album begins with the four carols in their more orchestrated form. “Away In a Manger,” arranged for piano and strings, comes first. This childhood favorite has a multitude of alternate melodies, and Nimoh’s lovely arrangement includes a few of the best-known ones. Lyrical and overflowing with warmth and love, it’s a wonderful arrangement! “Angels We Have Heard on High” can often be quite exuberant, but Nimoh keeps his version thoughtful and graceful, with the strings carrying the melody part of the time and the piano taking the lead off and on. Nimoh’s arrangement of “O Holy Night” is unique with a few jazzy touches here and there. He also weaves in a verse of “Silent Night” before returning to the main part of the song. This track also includes some percussion in a few places for heightened drama - a very beautiful arrangement! “O Come All Ye Faithful” can also be joyous and celebratory, but this version conveys the feeling of a heartfelt invitation. The piano holds the lead through most of the piece, which is more fully-orchestrated than the other three songs.
As usual, it’s the piano solos that are my favorites on this album. “Away In a Manger” sounds even more tender and loving than it did with the strings. The gentle grace of “Angels We Have Heard On High” sings to the heavens. “O Holy Night” has been one of my favorite carols for most of my life, and I really like Nimoh’s jazzy, gospel touches in the main part of the song as well as the softness of his treatment of “Silent Night.” I also really like how the personal touches in “O Come All Ye Faithful” are more distinctive in the solo version and highlight Nimoh’s originality with these time-honored songs of Christmas.
The Gift of Christmas is available on Amazon, iTunes and CD Baby. It would make a lovely addition to your collection of Christmas music!
November 29, 2019