Tell the Story
is the debut CD by pianist Randi Rokke and contains seventeen familiar hymns arranged for solo piano. Each hymn is dedicated to specific family members and many were arranged for meaningful events. The wife and daughter of Lutheran pastors, Rokke is also a church pianist, music director, piano teacher, etc. This music has obviously been a very big part of her life, and she is completely at home with it. Her arrangements are personal yet keep the melodies intact and “singable.” Some artists like to give hymns an entirely new interpretation that is strictly for listening enjoyment, but most of Rokke’s arrangements feel comfortable and familiar - not “too different.” She enjoys combining classical music with hymns, and those pieces are some of my favorites on this album.
“Oh Jesus I Have Promised” begins the CD in a very prayerful mood. Arranged for the 25th anniversary of her husband’s ordination as a pastor, Rokke really plays it from her heart. “Beautiful Savior” is combined with “Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring,” a match that works beautifully. It’s not easy playing a melody on each hand, but Rokke handles it masterfully and joyfully. “In The Garden” is one of my favorite hymns, and it’s always fun to hear a new take on it. The title of the album obviously comes from “I Love To Tell the Story
.” The first part of this arrangement is played in the lower registers of the piano, which is unusual, and is perhaps intended to sound more masculine. The second half of the song is played in the normal singing range - a very effective arrangement! “Amazing Grace” seems to be part of most hymn collections, so I’m always impressed when someone gives it a fresh new feel. This arrangement was done for Rokke’s mother-in-law’s funeral, and is flowing and tender. “His Eye is On the Sparrow” is a gorgeous arrangement - graceful and soulful. “When Peace Like A River” is combined with phrases of Debussy’s “Clair de Lune” - a lovely duo! “Were You There” is another favorite. Arranged for an Easter cantata, the mood is dark and somber yet hopeful. It seems like “Jesus Loves Me” is the first song many children learn, giving it a very special place in the hearts of many. Combined with “Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus,” a mother’s love for her youngest daughter is palpable. The CD closes with a rousing version of “God Bless America” and a hearty “amen!”
Tell the Story
is a very enjoyable and inspiring debut! It is available from randirokke.com
. I understand a new Christmas album is up next, so stay tuned!