Joy of Christmas CD
On Christmas Night All Christians Sing; Angels We Have Heard On High; O Come, O Come, Emmanuel; Carol Of The Bells; O Come, All Ye Faithful; O Holy Night; Joy To The World; What Child Is This?; Sing We Now Of Christmas; Away In A Manger; Hark! The Herald Angels Sing; Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence; O Little Town Of Bethlehem; Canon In D; Silent Night! Holy Night!
Damon Criswell bills his music as "piano landscapes". Having heard his latest, Joy of Christmas, I would characterize it similarly. Not really thinking about Criswell's own characterization, the thought popped into my mind that his play creates an ebullient wall of sound. Nimble fingers and lightning tempos weave broad tapestries across the face of this album in a way few other pianists manage. And at 60 minutes and 15 traditional selections, this is one long wall. I hear most of these songs all the time, so I am constantly on the lookout for anything new and different. And while he does not break new ground, I found the arrangement of O Come, O Come Emmanuel sweet and fulfilling, maintaining the august sanctity of the carol but from time to time darting hither and yon with little new age flourishes. Me loves them new age flourishes. And for those wishing for something off the beaten way, there's a nice rendition of Pachelbel's Canon In D. For piano enthusiasts there are plenty of notes here and for those who just want lively background music, here's an hour's worth of some good stuff. But whether you are an aficionado or just an occasional Christmas listener, no one should find Damon Criswell's Joy of Christmas lacking. --Richard Banks (Reviewed in 2006)