Christmas to me is more than just a day. It is a collection of lovely feelings and memories that multiplies each passing year. One of my favorite Christmas memories happened one night when I was a child. My dad, sister and I were lying on the living room floor with nothing but the Christmas tree lights for illumination. Those lights shone like stars on the ceiling, and in the background, ever so softly, the Christmas music played. The combination of soft lights and beautiful music was magical. That night was one of the most peaceful nights of my life. I hope that this album will not only remind you of such Christmases gone by, but also that
it would be a part of new memories yet to come.
Like electricity moving through a bare wire, Christmas Magic, Jennifer Haines new CD of solo piano arrangments of traditional carols, is full of channeled energy. The emotional tension is controlled and directed, but audible in every note she plays. At the same time, there is a soothing quality to her play, because the tension is constant, the volume modulated, the force contained.
The choice of songs is apropos to her treatments, consisting entirely of "serious" Christmas carols, with Good King Wenceslas the most lighthearted of her selections. She chooses to open with a meandering arrangement combining Noël Nouvelet with Veni, Veni, Emanuel. Meandering as a river, contemplative, and deep with power and meaning.
Christmas Magic is notable in its ability to maintain its intensity through fifteen songs and fifty minutes. Though not lighthearted, neither is there any hint of darkness. Pensive, but positive, Jennifer Haines guides the listener down a powerful but slow-moving river of traditional refrains, offering both comfort and contemplation in full measure.
I just finished listening to the Christmas CD you sent, and thought you'd like to know it will be noted as a Recording of Exceptional Merit on my program, and will be prominent in my newspaper column. There are over 100 solo piano Christmas recordings on my shelves, so it really says something that yours could still catch my ear as something different, yet thoroughly in the Christmas spirit.
Host of the Dr. Christmas radio shows on WRST-FM
The Cure for the Common Carol...
I know, I know – what in the world do you need with another Christmas carol album? Well, you’re wrong, and I’m here to write you a simple prescription for the common carol – Jennifer Haines’ new album, Christmas Magic.
For those of you who’ve never had the pleasure of listening to this amazing young solo pianist – this is a great album to start with. The melodies – though renditions of the “same old songs” you hear every holiday season – are unlike anything you’ve ever heard before. Jennifer Haines is one of the few artists I’ve found in this world with the ability to create music that inspires more than just a musical experience, she somehow manages to transform it into an emotional, nearly mystical one. In Christmas Magic, her creative compositions have integrated a hauntingly beautiful deep and dark gravity that perfectly embodies the spirit of Winter. Unlike so many new albums that keep you constantly skipping through songs to reach “the best one”, from the moment you put the CD in and press play, you’ll enter into a meditative, introspective journey that lasts from beginning to end. And, in all honesty, the chances are that you’ll find yourself still plugging it in well after the ice and snow have melted away and the Spring thaw has arrived.
So, if you’re looking for a great gift to spoil yourself (or someone else) with, you’ll be hard-pressed finding another holiday album that can light a candle to this one.