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Album Review: Joy
Randi Rokke
Cover image of the album Joy by Randi Rokke
Randi Rokke
2009 / Randi Rokke
44 minutes
Review by Kathy Parsons
Joy, a collection of thirteen solo piano arrangements of favorite Christmas songs, is the second 2009 release from Randi Rokke, following Tell the Story, an album of hymns. The wife and daughter of Lutheran pastors, Rokke has been a church pianist, choir director, music coordinator, and a private voice and piano teacher for more than thirty-five years. Her arrangements are full, heartfelt, and interesting, and the melodies are set in fairly traditional stylings. Rokke’s personal touches and embellishments along with her thoughts in the liner notes give these songs a fresh sound without making them “too different.”

Joy To The World” begins the album with a reverent arrangement of this favorite. Rokke’s interpretation seems to be more of an individual’s earnest private celebration rather than the overt exuberance of many other versions - a very nice change. “Away In a Manger” is the first Christmas song many children learn, and the innocence and wonder of childhood are reflected in this lovely arrangement. “Silent Night, Holy Night” has a gently flowing left hand and a quiet melody, conveying the calm of heavenly peace. “Your Little Ones, Dear Lord” is a carol that I’m not familiar with, but Rokke mentions in the liner notes that this song has always been sung in her family as part of Advent devotions. “Angels We Have Heard On High” can handle a wide variety of treatments from subtle to bold, and this one is on the quiet, graceful side. “O Come, Little Children” is a hymn Rokke recalls from her early days in Brazil when her parents were missionaries. The melody is simple and sincere while the accompaniment has a subtle enthusiasm and energy. I really like this version of “Come, Thou Long-Expected Jesus.” Passion underlies the feelings of longing and hope. “God Rest You Merry, Gentlemen” is given a big and emotional arrangement that works beautifully - another favorite! It seems that the venerable “Canon In D” by Pachelbel is enjoying a resurgence of popularity, and Rokke very cleverly and effectively created a medley of the Canon and “The First Noel,” a lovely close to this album.

Joy is a welcome addition to your Christmas music collection! It is available from randirokke.com. Cheers!
November 6, 2009
This review has been tagged as:
Holiday Albums
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