Peace, Joy, Noel
2012 / Janice Faber
"Peace, Joy, Noel" is Janice Faber’s fourth solo piano album, and this one features her graceful and elegant arrangements of traditional Christmas songs. Much more reflective than jovial, more reverent than playful, this album provides a reminder of the real meaning of Christmas and why we celebrate it. No Santa Claus or jingle bells, just warm and deeply heartfelt Christmas hymns arranged for solo piano and played to perfection by this classically-trained pianist who has been playing for church services since she was ten. Three of the twelve tracks combine two pieces into medleys - an approach I always really enjoy because of the interpretive nature of putting songs together to form something new. Faber’s previous albums include two collections of hymns arranged for solo piano and an album of her original compositions, and all are exceptional, as is Peace, Joy, Noel.
The album opens with a lighthearted version of “Joy To the World.” Upbeat without being overly exuberant, it’s a lovely beginning. “God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen” is one of my favorite carols, and I’m always amazed at how well it adapts to a wide variety of treatments. This one focuses on the beauty and expressive nature of the melody - a favorite. I also really like “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel.” Thought to be one of the earliest Christmas carols, the haunting melody never ceases to grab me and stop me in my tracks, and Faber’s delicate embellishments personalize and modernize this ancient song. One of the medleys is “Come, Thou Long Expected Jesus” and JS Bach’s “Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring,” a combination I haven’t heard before but that works beautifully. “We Three Kings” is performed in a flowing theme and variations style that includes wonderful personal touches and improvisations that bring it into the 21st century while keeping the melody intact. I really love this track! Another medley combines “Away In a Manger” and Brahms’ “Lullaby” to make a tender love song to a sweet newborn. Slow, smooth and very relaxed, it is sure to appeal to the child in all of us. Faber’s elegant and evocative interpretation of “Silent Night” ends the album by wrapping us in the warmth of heavenly peace.
If you’re looking for a new album of solo piano Christmas music for 2012, be sure to check this one out! "Peace, Joy, Noel" is available from www.janicefaberpiano.com, Amazon, iTunes, and CD Baby. Very highly recommended!
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