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Album Review: Meditations of My Heart
Marshall Barnhouse
Cover image of the album Meditations of My Heart by Marshall Barnhouse
Meditations of My Heart
Marshall Barnhouse
2012 / Marshall Barnhouse
34 minutes
Review by Kathy Parsons
Meditations of My Heart is the debut CD by Marshall Barnhouse, a pianist, composer, and teacher who began his life as a musician at the age of eight and became his church’s pianist at the age of ten. This album is a collection of ten pieces that come from diverse origins but that Barnhouse came to know in the church. This is and isn’t a collection of hymns in that while some of the melodies are familiar, Barnhouse has created arrangements that transform each song into a “meditation of his heart.” All of the arrangements are for piano and strings, and the settings are emotionally very powerful, making this a richly rewarding listening experience spiritually and for the music itself.

The album begins with “Receive Me,” a beautiful Byzantine melody played with simple directness on the piano with sweeping strings that make it soar. Tchaikovsky’s “Russian Trisagion” is a favorite. Dark, haunting, and very powerful, the title comes from a form of ancient prayer that dates back to the Greeks and translates as “Thrice Holy.” “Russian Entrance Hymn” by Dimitri Razumovsky is graceful and serene. “Nettleton” is the name of the melody for “Come Thou Fount,” and this arrangement is contemporary while still reflective and prayerful. “St. Elizabeth” is my favorite track. It is the melody for “Fairest Lord Jesus,” this time in a minor key, which is gorgeous, eloquent, and very poignant. “Trentham” is the melody for “Breathe On Me, Breath of God,” a beautiful and thoughtful arrangement. “The Nativity” is a dark Romanian melody that I also really like. It isn’t a familiar Christmas carol (to me, anyway), but the graceful melody and fluid strings go right to the heart. The closing hymn, “Jerusalem” by Sir Hubert Parry, is also a favorite. Heartfelt and spiritually rousing, Barnhouse’s arrangement is an effective call to worship as well as a wonderful song.

Meditations of My Heart is a most impressive debut and I hope Marshall Barnhouse will continue to share his arrangements and original compositions with us! Meditations is available from www.marshallbarnhouse.com, Amazon, and CD Baby. Recommended!
October 23, 2012
This review has been tagged as:
Debut AlbumsHymn Arrangements
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