Christmas... Listen and Remember
Timothy J. Mercaldo
2004 / TJVJ Records
Review by Kathy Parsons
Christmas... Listen and Remember is Rev. Timothy J. Mercaldo’s debut CD. Associate Pastor and Creative Arts Minister at Gateway Cathedral in New York City for the past twenty-plus years, these solo piano arrangements of sacred and popular holiday songs come from the church’s Christmas productions presented annually to upwards of 10,000 people. Incorporating jazz voicings on some of the carols, the arrangements don’t stray far from the traditional treatment they are usually given, and yet there is something fresh and inspiring about Rev. Timothy’s interpretations. Several of the ten tracks are medleys, so there are more than ten songs included.
The CD opens with a medley of “Good Christian Men Rejoice” and “Joy to the World.” The use of slightly discordant chords and a playful rhythm make this piece effervescent and contagious in its joy. “The Christmas Song” opens with a couple of phrases from “Jingle Bells” and the verse from the song before going into a soulful version of the familiar “Chestnuts Roasting On an Open Fire.” Mercaldo slows down the pace, creating a mood of reflection and reminiscence - a truly lovely arrangement. “Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let It Snow” is absolutely bubbly for the first verse, then becomes thoughtful and more romantic; it ends as it began - on top of the world. “I’ll Be Home For Christmas” is poignant and melancholy, as it was intended to be, and Mercaldo plays it from the heart. The medley of “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing” and “Angels We Have Heard on High” is big and bold, traditional and yet updated. “The Christmas Waltz” is sweet, gentle, and wistful. “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” tugs at the heartstrings with it’s simple but sincere message. Mercaldo builds the emotional impact toward the end and then becomes reflective and sentimental to close the song - another beauty! “Silent Night” begins with the melody in the bass clef and the treble painting a picture of snow gently falling. The chords become bolder in the third verse, but the mood is still one of perfect peace. “O Holy Night” is one of my all-time favorite carols and this version is gorgeous. The final track is the gentle lullaby, “Away In a Manger.” There are at least forty melodies that go with the lyrics of this song, and Mercaldo includes two of them as a medley that ends the collection with a sigh.
If you love solo piano Christmas music arranged to be a little different but still traditional, you can’t go wrong with this CD. It is currently available only by contacting Rev. Timothy at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling the church at (718) 966-4500. Recommended!
August 22, 2006