Bill Leslie | A Midnight Clear: Christmas in Mitford

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A Midnight Clear: Christmas in Mitford

by Bill Leslie

16 beautiful traditional and original Christmas tunes from top-selling Celtic fusion artist Bill Leslie featuring acoustic guitar, grand piano, violin, cello, flute, Celtic whistle, oboe, harp and hammered dulcimer.
Genre: Easy Listening: Nostalgia
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1. Coventry Carol - What Child Is This
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5:31 $0.99
2. Angels We Have Heard On High
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2:40 $0.99
3. Mitford Carol
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2:38 $0.99
4. A Midnight Clear
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2:39 $0.99
5. Wexford Carol
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2:41 $0.99
6. December Dance
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2:48 $0.99
7. Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence
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3:28 $0.99
8. The Holly and the Ivy
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2:37 $0.99
9. Father Tim
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1:56 $0.99
10. I Wonder As I Wander
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4:30 $0.99
11. Christmas in Mitford
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3:50 $0.99
12. Christ Child Lullaby
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2:32 $0.99
13. Infant Holy, Infant Lowly
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3:06 $0.99
14. Love Is Born
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3:26 $0.99
15. Uncle Billy Watson
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2:27 $0.99
16. Winter Rose
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3:03 $0.99
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ABOUT THIS ALBUM


Album Notes
The best album yet from top-selling Celtic fusion artist Bill Leslie! A Midnight Clear - Christmas in Mitford is a gorgeous blend of songs and instruments featuring acoustic guitar, grand piano, violin, cello, Celtic whistles, flute, oboe, harp and hammered dulcimer. This album contains 16 tracks and offers a balance of traditional and original pieces. The first fifteen cuts are instrumental. A Midnight Clear - Christmas in Mitford ends with Leslie's hauntingly beautiful vocal "Winter Rose."

The album is a tribute to best-selling Mitford series author Jan Karon. Mitford is a mythical mountain town that reminds Leslie of his childhood home in western North Carolina. The author Karon describes the music as "wistful and consoling -- the perfect antidote to the bane of modern anxiety."

Musicians on this compilation include two Juilliard graduates - Jennifer Curtis on violin and Melanie Wilsden on oboe. Other top flight musicians include Bill Covington on grand piano, Nancy Green on cello, Anita Burroughs-Price on harp, Dan Gilvary on hammered dulcimer, Brent Cotten on guitar, Will Leslie on percussion, Marty Long on vocals and Leslie on a variety of instruments including guitar, Celtic whistles, piano and keyboards.


Reviews


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Raj Manoharan (www.rajmanreviews.blogspot.com)

The RajMan Review
Bill Leslie’s latest CD is a yuletide offering that serves as a soundtrack to Christmas in Mitford, a mythical mountain village that provides the basis for a series of best-selling novels by Jan Karon, who also designed the stunning winter wonderland scene for the album cover.

Although many of the song titles are based on characters and situations from Mitford, you don’t have to be familiar with Karon’s literary universe in order to appreciate the disc, which also contains traditional favorites and is full of the spirit of the holidays.

Leslie plays his trademark acoustic guitar and piano, as well as Celtic whistles and keyboards, and is joined by a solid lineup of musicians on violin, cello, oboe, guitar, piano, and percussion. The mostly acoustic instrumentation gives the music a warm, down-home, hearty feel, keeping with the vibe of the season.

My favorite tracks on the album are “Mitford Carol,” “Wexford Carol,” “The Holly and the Ivy,” and “Father Tim.” The simple beauty of these tunes best exemplifies the quiet awe and tranquil majesty of this particular time of the winter.

That being said, the entire album is a joy to listen to. Leslie and his band are virtuosic without being showy or flashy, and the compositions, arrangements, and performances will put you in the mood to celebrate Christmas in Mitford, or wherever you are.

REVIEWS NEW AGE

La palabra “acústico” adquiere un significado mayúsculo!.
Buscando el equilibrio, el compositor Bill Leslie ha creado uno de los álbumes más emotivos y completos para las Navidades del 2011 inspirados en las novelas de Jan Karons, una famosa escritora de Mitford. Compuesto de dieciséis piezas, Bill adapta nueve villancicos y nos obsequia con siete composiciones originales, lo que hace de este álbum un trabajo perfecto para escuchar en cualquier momento, siendo no exclusivo sólo en Navidad. Con su particular incursión entre la música folk americana y la música celta, el grupo formado por: Bill Leslie (guitarras, voces, piano, teclados y whistles), Bill Covington (gran piano), Brent Cotten (guitarras acústicas), Jennifer Curtis (violín), Dulcimer Dan Gilvary (dulcimer), Nancy Green (chelo), Will Leslie (percusión), Marty Long (voces), Anita Burroughs-Price (arpa), John Santa (mandolina) y Melanie Wilsdendel (oboe) crean un álbum soñador, encantador y de una riqueza sonora increíble. Donde la palabra “acústico” adquiere un significado mayúsculo.
La primera pieza es el original medley formado por los populares villancicos Coventry Carol y Wat Child is This, donde el piano, el violín y un whistle interpretan una adaptación hermosa. De fondo, podemos disfrutar de unos arreglos orquestales sorprendentes; un acompañamiento perfecto!.

El arpa es la protagonista en “Angels We Have Heard on High”, dando voz a la famosa melodía, mientras vientos y cuerdas intercambian sus melodías con júbilo. Una de mis favoritas!.

Una de las piezas más bellas del álbum es “Mitford Carol”, primera composición original de Leslie en este CD. La melodía de la guitarra acústica le ofrece un estado de calidez fantástico a la pieza y la adhesión de los demás instrumentos van apresando al oyente. Risueña pieza!.

Llevada al terreno celta, “A Midnight Clear” adquiere un encantador sonido. Leslie se apoya en cristalinas cuerdas y un profundo whistle que juntos dan vida a esta interesante adaptación.

Más suave y entrañable que las pistas escuchadas hasta ahora es la versión que Leslie hace del tema “Wexford Carol”. Una pieza que invita a soñar y a vivir el momento con ternura dejándose llevar por la mágica melodía. Otra de mis preferidas de A Midnight Clear.

Sublime “December Peace”, una pieza que recuerda a las magníficas producciones de Windham Hill, donde las guitarras y los vientos mantienen un ritmo vertiginoso, originando en una pieza llena de vida y con una llamativa melodía.

Una de las piezas que más se acercan al género Celta es “Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence”, donde un arpa y un fondo de cuerdas establecen uno de los momentos más íntimos y melancólicos del álbum. Sin duda, es una de las mejores piezas que se pueden oír en A Midnight Clear.

Una de las mejores adaptaciones de “The Holy and the Ivy” puede ser escuchada en este álbum. El juego entre instrumentos para realizar la conocida melodía es prodigioso, rozando la ternura. Instrumentos que se apoyan en un fondo orquestal que mantienen la emoción en todo momento. Genial!.

Una breve y sentida pieza que llega a lo más recóndito del alma. La brevedad y el acierto en la composición son los ingredientes perfectos para hacer que esta melodía no pase desapercibida, despertando fuertes emociones en el oyente. “Father Tim” es otro de los pequeños grandes temas de este álbum.

“I Wonder as I Wander”, otra adaptación de Leslie. La riqueza de esta pieza reside en la cantidad de instrumentos y en la perfección en el que las diferentes melodías encajan entre sí. La melodía es conmovedora, una verdadera delicia escucharla.

Una de mis piezas preferidas por su alegría, ritmo y sobre todo, por una música llena de fuerza y una melodía muy pegadiza es “Christmas in Mitford”. La pieza en su totalidad es magnífica, pero esperar a oír el estribillo es sencillamente asombroso. Extraordinaria composición!.

“Christ Child Lullaby” es una hermosa y tierna versión que Bill realiza de un popular villancico. El piano es el principal instrumento, donde Bill Covington realiza una bellísima interpretación. Me gusta!.

Arpa, conjunto de cuerdas y vientos crean la última adaptación de Leslie, “Infant Holy, Infant Lowly”. Lenta y enternecedora las cuerdas del arpa se unen a un par de instrumentos de viento que dan vida a la renovada melodía.

Un comienzo diferente, contrastado con los temas que caracterizan a este álbum es la sorprendente “Love is Born”, una pieza interpretada por un conjunto orquestal, al que se le suma un whistle y varios instrumentos ya conocidos a mitad de duración.

De nuevo llega el ritmo y las buenas vibraciones, esta vez con “Uncle Billy Watson”. Golpes de acordes y una melodía llena de fuerza y arrojo son los atractivos de esta radiante composición que hace bailar al oyente con toques rápidos de guitarras, violín o piano. Realmente es la pieza más optimista y poderosa de todo el álbum. Asombroso!.

Para finalizar, Bill apuesta por una canción cantada a dúo por él mismo junto a Marty Long. Un final inesperado y distinto. Una canción de tono preocupado que deja al oyente con un sentimiento agridulce.

A Midnight Clear: Christmas in Mitford es una álbum lleno de riquezas. Con una gran cantidad de piezas para disfrutar, una gran variedad de buenas melodías y una forma diferente de escuchar villancicos, hacen que este álbum sea una adquisición segura para aquellos que deseen disfrutar de una música donde la calidad en el sonido y en las composiciones sean lo primero. Sin duda, Bill Leslie ha creado uno de los mejores álbumes navideños de 2011. Enhorabuena Sr. Leslie!. Indudablemente, A Midnight Clear merece la mayor puntuación posible.

reviewsnewage.com
07/01/12

Kathy Parsons

From MainlyPiano
"A Midnight Clear - Christmas In Mitford" was inspired by Jan Karon's best-selling series of Mitford books. Bill Leslie received a collection of these books from his sister as a gift several years ago, and the setting, a mythical mountain town, reminded Bill of his childhood home in western North Carolina. Over time, Bill Leslie, a television journalist in Raleigh, NC, and Jan Karon became great friends, with Karon featuring Leslie's music on her website and designing the cover for this CD as well as choosing the title. The selection of sixteen tracks includes traditional Christmas music as well as original pieces that incorporate elements of the Mitford books. This is Leslie's sixth release and features an impressive group of supporting musicians that includes Bill Covington on piano, Brent Cotton on guitars, Jennifer Curtis on violin, and Bill's son Will on percussion. Bill, whom cellist Yo-Yo Ma referred to as "one of the greats in modern Celtic music," performs on acoustic guitar, Celtic whistles, lead vocals, piano, and keyboards in addition to composing seven of the pieces and arranging the others. Receiving a new CD by Bill Leslie for review always brings a smile to my face, and this one is no exception. Warm, tender, and heartfelt, this album will bring Christmas joy for many seasons to come!

All of the tracks on "A Midnight Clear" are exceptional, but I'll mention some of my favorites. It begins with a gorgeous medley of "Coventry Carol" and "What Child Is This" that features piano, Celtic whistle, oboe, violin, and cello. These are two of my favorite Christmas songs, and Leslie's arrangement is perfect. "Angels We Have Heard On High" is performed on harp, Celtic whistle, and strings - upbeat and joyful. "Mitford Carol" is the first of the original pieces. The acoustic ensemble creates a mood of gentle magic, painting a serene portrait of this mythical town. "A Midnight Clear" is performed on hammered dulcimer by Dan Gilvary and Leslie on whistle and guitar - gorgeous! "December Dance" begins with a quiet guitar/mandolin prelude that becomes a lively Celtic dance. "Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence" is another ancient carol, this time dating back to the 4th century. Dark and haunting, this arrangement is exquisite. I also really love "The Holly and the Ivy" and "I Wonder As I Wander." "Love Is Born" has a cinematic feeling about it with string washes and a subtle melody that suggests wonder and awe. "Uncle Billy Watson" brings us back to earth with an instrumental folk song that celebrates life. "Winter Rose" closes the album with a magical vocal duet with Bill Leslie and Marty Long.

"A Midnight Clear - Christmas in Mitford" is a wonderful addition to any Christmas music collection! Very highly recommended!

Barbara Lemon Telecsan

Delightful
I love the arrangements and instruments. Such peaceful, lovely music....and to think....Father Tim has a song named after him - and Uncle Billy too!!

Michael Diamond

Review excerpt from Music & Media Focus
The inspiration for this recording comes from the writings of Jan Karon, who has produced a series of books about life in the mythical North Carolina mountain village of Mitford, which was similar to the real-life town where Bill grew up. The cozy feel and small town charm of the fictional Mitford is perfectly captured in the music of this delightful album and almost makes you feel like you are there. This holiday release features fifteen instrumentals and one vocal song including original compositions by Bill Leslie as well as traditional favorites such as “Coventry Carol/ What Child Is This,” “Angels We Have Heard On High,” “A Midnight Clear,” and others. On the album, Bill, who plays acoustic guitar, Celtic whistles, lead vocals, piano, and keyboards is joined by a host of top notch musicians lending their talents on harp, hammered dulcimer, violin, cello, percussion, mandolin, oboe, and more. As might be surmised from the above-mentioned instrumentation, there is a wee bit of Celtic flavor to the music. In fact, world-renowned cellist Yo-Yo Ma referred to Bill as “one of the greats in modern Celtic music.” High praise, indeed!

While some of the tunes exude a down home folksiness, many of them have a cinematic quality and would make an outstanding soundtrack for a film. I especially appreciated the balance between featuring individual instruments at times and the intricate interplay of the ensemble at others. The musicianship, arrangements, and production are exemplary and I have the highest regard for the remarkable talent that has gone into this project.