Peace and Good Will
is composer/arranger/multi-instrumentalist Lore Constantine’s contribution to the ever-growing wealth of recorded instrumental Christmas music. Arranged mostly as piano solos, the ten selections include three piano/flute duets with Constantine playing both parts (how’d she do dat?). This very appealing album features a combination of sacred and secular carols and a wonderful solo piano arrangement of John Lennon’s “Imagine.” The arrangements are warm and inviting, relying on the beauty of the melodies rather than pianistic fireworks or bravado. This is a great album for people looking for a collection of carols in fairly traditional settings yet just different enough to be distinctive.
“Wexford Carol” opens the set with a traditional Irish Christmas song that dates back to the 12th century. Performed as a flute and piano duet, it exudes joy and celebration - a charming beginning! “We Three Kings” begins with a straightforward playing of the melody accompanied by arpeggiated chords; the second verse is a lovely and lightly improvised variation on the melody. “White Christmas” is poignant, dreamy, and played with just enough sentiment. Constantine brightens the mood with a lighthearted and slightly jazzy arrangement of “Let It Snow.” The beautiful melody and expressive playing in “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” wistfully tug at the heart, and the improvised middle section gives it a very personal touch. “O Joyful Children” is a newer carol (1994), and Constantine’s arrangement is flowing and graceful. “What Child Is This?” is the second flute and piano duet. The two instruments alternate on the melody with the other instrument playing an accompaniment or a counter-melody. The flute improv in the middle is lively and again adds a very personal touch. “The First Noel” is a flowing piano solo that is kept simple and heartfelt. “Silent Night” is the third duet. Both parts are elegant and spare, meshing beautifully and expressively. I never would have thought of “Imagine” as a Christmas song, but as one of the most powerful songs ever written about the quest for peace, it’s a perfect fit and a satisfying ending to the album.
Peace and Good Will
is available from www.loreconstantine.com
, Amazon, iTunes, and CD Baby. Recommended!