Favorite Icon, Full size
Album Review: Peaceful Christmas
Louis Landon
Cover image of the album Peaceful Christmas by Louis Landon
Peaceful Christmas
Louis Landon
2011 / Landon Creative, Inc.
58 minutes
Review by Kathy Parsons
Peaceful Christmas is one of my favorite new Christmas albums this year. Arranged for solo piano and performed by Louis Landon, this collection of fifteen Christmas carols ranges from sweet tranquility to blues and jazz, and features four original compositions. (Pianists will be overjoyed to learn that a companion sheet music book is on its way!) Landon plays some of the songs fairly traditionally, and then there are some surprises (like the gospel-tinged “Silent Night” and the jazz-infused “Jingle Bells.” I really like the variety in the music and Landon’s effortless playing style. The album was recorded at Joe Bongiorno’s Piano Haven Studio, so the sound of the piano is clean, clear, and warm. If you are looking for new solo piano Christmas music, this one is a keeper!

Peaceful Christmas begins with “Joy to the World,” which starts out delicately and picks up energy as it evolves. Each verse has a little different rhythm, giving the song a theme and variations kind of feel. “The First Noel” is almost fragile in its shimmering beauty. The interlude in the middle gives a very personal touch. “Family” is the first of the original pieces. Tender and sweet, it overflows with contentment and loving warmth. As a piano teacher, “O Christmas Tree” was always one of the first carols I got tired of each year, but I love Landon’s slightly bluesy take on the song. “Icicles” is the second original and one of my favorite tracks on the album. Played mostly in the upper registers of the piano, Landon’s expressive touch gives this piece a real chill as well as a sparkle. Love it! “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen” is one of my favorite carols - in part because it’s so versatile - and Landon’s arrangement is one of my favorite solo piano versions. Dark, poignant, and in constant motion, I also love the magical interludes between verses and how they flow back into the song. Landon cleverly weaves phrases from “Carol of the Bells” into “Greensleeves,” giving it a very original interpretation that works beautifully. “Moonlight Sleigh Ride” is both lively and enchanting. What fun it would be to ride through the snow late at night with the moon as a guide, and this piece captures that feeling perfectly. “Silent Night” is usually the epitome of peaceful Christmas carols, so Landon’s gospel take on it is a happy surprise. Played at a leisurely tempo, it’s still very peaceful, but very different. Fun! “Bluesy Christmas” is the fourth of the originals, and is a slow and easy blues that seems a little wistful and bittersweet. “Jingle Bells” ends the set in a way you’ve never heard this song before. Pure jazz fun, I’ll bet Landon recorded this take with a big grin on his face! A great close to a great album!

Peaceful Christmas is available as a CD or as a download from louislandon.com, Amazon, iTunes, and CD Baby. Check it out!
November 22, 2011
This review has been tagged as:
Holiday AlbumsKathy's Favorites: 2011