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Album Review: Christmas Fireside
Richard Carr
Cover image of the album Christmas Fireside by Richard Carr
Christmas Fireside
Richard Carr
2000 / Rec'd Music
63 minutes
Review by Kathy Parsons
As a piano teacher who teaches Christmas music from late October until the end of December, the release of a new Christmas album normally doesn’t set my toes to tingling! Happily, Richard Carr has managed to breathe new life into a set of fourteen traditional holiday pieces and three original songs composed for Christmas Fireside. This solo piano collection is comprised mostly of carols composed in minor keys (my personal favorites!), giving it a serious and slightly somber feel - reflective, but certainly not joyless. Most of the songs have a fairly straightforward play-through, and then Carr improvises and embellishes in his own very distinctive style, bringing a fresh and personal interpretation to some well-worn holiday gems. Of those, I especially like Carr’s versions of “The First Noel” (sweet and gentle), “Gesu Bambino”, “Away in a Manger”, “O Come O Come, Emmanuel” (dark, highly improvised, and very moving), “O Tannenbaum” (lighter and upbeat), “Shalom Cheverin”, “We Three Kings” (a lovely waltz that drifts into the deep bass with great effect!), “Lo, How a Rose E’er Blooming”, “Coventry Carol” (darkly beautiful), and “Greensleeves”. Wow! That’s most of the songs! Since I play almost all of these songs and have my own favorite arrangements, sometimes I tend to bristle when I hear arrangements that sound or feel wrong to me. This album rings true from start to finish, and there are no tracks that I dislike. The three original pieces fit well into this collection. “Bells in the Valley” is an exuberant celebration, and is probably the most joyful piece on the album. “Sleigh Ride Across Open Fields” is also fun and upbeat - this sleigh seems to fly! Christmas Fireside is much quieter and more introspective - a loving description of the feelings that come from sharing a warm, peaceful moment in front of a fireplace as the flames start to diminish. So, if you believe that Christmas is so much more than Santa Claus, I think you’ll really enjoy this album. I rarely wholeheartedly recommend a Christmas album, but I really like this one! It is available from www.richardcarr.com and www.amazon.com.
December 1, 2000
This review has been tagged as:
Holiday AlbumsKathy's Favorites: 2000
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