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Album Review: Calm and Peaceful Christmas Piano
Louis Landon
Cover image of the album Calm and Peaceful Christmas Piano by Louis Landon
Calm and Peaceful Christmas Piano
Louis Landon
2021 / Landon Creative, Inc.
36 minutes
Review by Kathy Parsons
Calm and Peaceful Christmas Piano is pianist/composer Louis Landon's third solo piano Christmas album. The first two are Peaceful Christmas (2011) and Peaceful Christmas 2 (2017), and all three are among my favorite Christmas albums. It's hard to believe that I've been reviewing Landon's albums since his 2005 release, Unwind, and have reviewed a total of thirty of his albums (with more to come shortly!). Also one of the frequent performers in my house concert series, Louis Landon is definitely among the top-tier pianist/composers I have worked with over the years. This beautiful collection of twelve familiar Christmas songs and carols plus one original piece is a gentle blend of religious and secular music arranged to be a soothing antidote to the stress that often comes with the holidays. It is also the perfect accompaniment to a holiday gathering, a quiet meal, wrapping gifts, or just putting your feet up and getting lost in the beauty of the music.

Calm and Peaceful Christmas Piano begins with "Christmas Time Is Here," the classic Vince Guaraldi piece that became the theme for the 1965 animated television special, "A Charlie Brown Christmas." Wistful and dreamy, it's obviously one of Louis' favorite Christmas songs, and his arrangement is outstanding! This song has also been released as a single. "Bring a Torch, Jeanette, Isabella" expresses a quiet urgency and a sense of excitement with a rolling left hand pattern propelling the sweet melody forward. "In the Bleak Midwinter" features several verses of the song played in a classical style, woven together with improvised bridges - really nice! "Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring" is the classic Bach piece given a contemporary flavor without changing the melody much. "Gesu Bambino" is an Italian carol composed by Pietro Yon in 1917, and both the melody and the lyrics of the chorus are derived from the chorus of "O Come All Ye Faithful" ("Adeste Fidelis"). The flowing left hand gives this arrangement a slight rocking feeling (like a cradle) well-suited to a sweet lullaby. "Jolly Old Saint Nicholas" was one of the first Christmas songs I taught my youngest piano students because the melody is so simple and repetitive. Louis' arrangement keeps the purity and innocence of the song intact - especially in the first verse - and then gently improvises on it to perfection. "The Holly and the Ivy" is one of my favorites, and I love this arrangement. Propelled by a flowing left hand and a lively improvisation on the melody, this is my favorite track on the album. "Still, Still, Still" is certainly one of the quietest and most peaceful of the Christmas carols, and Louis' gentle arrangement is lovely. I've always loved the haunting quality of "Sing We Now of Christmas," and Louis' version includes several variations on the melody that are poignant and heartfelt. "Coventry Carol," one of the oldest carols, expresses the tragedy of King Herrod's order for all of the baby boys to be killed, and the darkness of that tragedy comes through the music eloquently. The closing track, "Holiday Celebrations," is a Landon original that conveys Louis' love for life, his hope for a peaceful world, and his joyful spirit - a great ending to a great album!

Calm and Peaceful Christmas Piano would be a very special addition to anyone's Christmas music collection and is available from www.LouisLandon.com, Amazon, Apple Music/iTunes and streaming sites such as Spotify. Sheet music is also available.
December 2, 2021