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Album Review: Christmas
Tim Neumark
Cover image of the album Christmas by Tim Neumark
Tim Neumark
2007 / Tim Neumark
40 minutes
Review by Kathy Parsons
Christmas is Tim Neumark’s second solo piano release this year, and is a collection of his own arrangements of eleven Christmas favorites, some of which he’s performed in churches during the Advent season for years. Most of the songs are warm, expressive, and fairly traditional, but there are a couple of real surprises. Seamlessly combining classical and new age stylings, Neumark has assembled an especially nice holiday CD that will never go out of style, and that will bring holiday cheer year after year.

Christmas opens with “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing,” a graceful, flowing arrangement that becomes majestic in the choruses. “The Little Drummer Boy” begins with dark chords as well as the melody in the bass of the piano; the other verses move up the piano, sometimes adding a countermelody - a lovely arrangement of a modern classic. “Away In a Manger” conveys a sweet, childlike innocence and grace. Neumark’s arrangement of “Carol of the Bells” is a big surprise. I’ve heard and played a lot of variations on this very versatile piece, and this is one of the most unique. Neumark explains in the liner notes that he has always felt the piece should have a “thunderous sound, as though I’m in the church tower as the bells are crashing.” It’s a fascinating interpretation, and Neumark makes effective use of dissonant chords and full-out fortissimo to create this impression, and then eases up and plays the melody lightly and gently, building again to the huge sound of the bells. No one in the back pew of the church will be able to sleep through this one! “Variations On “Do You Hear What I Hear?’” is a beautiful arrangement of another contemporary Christmas classic, with variations on the melody that range from very quiet and gentle to a bit more upbeat. “Masters In This Hall” is another surprise - big and bold with a touch of mystery. It’s good to hear this 17th century piece given new life. “Mary’s Boy Child” is lighthearted and joyful. “O Holy Night” features Cathie Olsen on violin. “Come Thou Long Expected Jesus” closes the CD with hope and anticipation.

Christmas will be a lovely addition to your holiday celebrations as well as your more meditative moments. It can be found at timneumark.com and amazon.com. Recommended!
November 8, 2007
This review has been tagged as:
Holiday Albums
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