Isadar | O Christmas (Solo Piano)

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Holiday: New Age New Age: Solo Instrumental Moods: Instrumental
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O Christmas (Solo Piano)

by Isadar

An upbeat Christmas solo piano album - hints of neo-classical, jazz, and new age and that which would fit well on a Windham Hill holiday sampler
Genre: Holiday: New Age
Release Date: 

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1. Good Christian Men
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4:31 $0.99
2. Teddy Bear's Picnic / March of the Toys
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3:39 $0.99
3. O Christmas Tree
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3:34 $0.99
4. Still
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3:21 $0.99
5. O Come, O Come, Emmanuel
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4:58 $0.99
6. Song of the Wise Men
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4:29 $0.99
7. O Come Little Children
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2:58 $0.99
8. Greensleeves 2012
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3:56 $0.99
9. Masters in This Hall
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5:43 $0.99
10. Merry Christmas...and a Happy New Year
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5:39 $0.99
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ABOUT THIS ALBUM


Album Notes
Isadar – O Christmas (2012) {Album review by Michael Diamond}

Fresh on the heels of his highly acclaimed chart-topping CD, "Reconstructed," Isadar gifts us with a sparkling new album of holiday-themed instrumental music for solo piano, entitled "O Christmas." Given the proximity to his recent release, one might assume that this one was quickly produced, but in reality O Christmas has been 7 years in the making. Various circumstances including other recording projects, a segue into the field of video production, and a cross country move from NYC to the west coast and later back again, created delays with the completion of the album. But as they say, “good things come to those who wait.”

One of the most interesting things about this album is the fact that the selections are traditional Christmas songs, yet some were chosen because they are less well known, or “off the beaten track” as Isadar characterizes them. This follows the pattern set by his 1999 Christmas album "In Search For The Meaning Of Christmas," yet this new CD mines even deeper in its quest for interesting and unusual choices.

The album begins with a track called “Good Christian Men.” Steeped in history, the song dates back to 14th century Germany and its Latin title was originally “In Dulci Jubilo” before it was translated into English in the 1800’s. Isadar’s interpretation creates a lively and festive air that makes a perfect portal to the recording. The high-spirited mood continues on the next song, “Teddy Bears Picnic,” which although not technically a Christmas song, has been interwoven by Isadar with "March Of The Toys" to tie it in with the holidays – a clever arrangement of these intriguing melodies. One of the more well-known carols on the album is “O Christmas Tree” and is sure to have listeners humming along with it’s familiar refrain.

A track entitled “Still” is an innovative rendition of the classic “Still, Still, Still” which Isadar has put his own spin on, or as he jokingly puts it “jazzed up shamelessly.” No such liberties were taken on the classic “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel,” however. This song provides a showcase for Isadar’s accomplished grand piano work, featuring lush left hand arpeggios creating a strong foundation for his more delicate right hand melodies to dance upon – a powerful and moving combination. Another of the less well known, yet equally inspiring tunes is a Puerto Rican carol entitled “Song Of The Wise Men.” It has been said that: “Christmas is, above all, a children’s holiday, and many hymns are addressed to children, reminding them that the real reason for the sugarplums and Christmas trees is the celebration of the birth of the Christ Child.” This theme is well reflected in Isadar’s choice of “O Come Little Children,” based on a carol from the 1800’s.

Among my favorite tracks on the album are the wistful strains of “Greensleeves 2012,” which Isadar interprets with elegance and grandeur and also pays 'homage' to Liz Story's brilliant take on this enduring composition. This is followed by a rendition of “Masters In This Hall,” which can best be described as, well… “masterful.” The song dates back to the sixteenth century, and is another of the less well-known tunes that Isadar has chosen to feature. The album draws to a close with Isadar invoking artistic license on what is perhaps one of the most unique and liberal versions of a classic carol heard here yet. Based on “We Wish You A Merry Christmas,” Isadar characterizes it as “an uninhibited melancholy arrangement.” While I don’t know if “melancholy” is the word I would use to describe it, it does have a pensive quality and is presented more as a nocturne than usual lively carol it is known as. I really liked the interpretation and respect Isadar’s creativity and distinctive rendering of the song.

"O Christmas" is an exceptional holiday collection, not only for Isadar’s elegant grand piano artistry, but as well for the interesting and sometimes unexpected repertoire contained within. Like ornaments on a tree, the songs adorn the album, enhancing its beauty with their diversity, individuality, and timelessness. Given the well-deserved accolades and popularity of Isadar’s distinctive piano style, I’m sure that fans will want to include "O Christmas" in their collection and make it a part of their holiday tradition. - Michael Diamond, Music And Media Focus (http://michaeldiamondmusic.com)


Reviews


to write a review

Kathy Parsons

From MainlyPiano
"O Christmas" is Isadar’s second solo piano release this year. Seven years in the making, it is an exuberant and joyful follow-up to his 1999 release, "In Search For the Meaning of Christmas," which was also solo piano. Like the earlier album, "O Christmas" is comprised of a fascinating mix of Christmas carols, some familiar and others more “off the beaten path.” Isadar’s playing and composing styles are uniquely his own, combining unusual arrangements and complex rhythms into a delightful listening experience for anyone looking for Christmas music that is different from more mainstream releases. (Pianistic fans of Isadar’s music will welcome the news that there is a companion sheet music book for this album as well.) I have been a fan of Isadar’s music since his 1999 release, Active Imagination, and had the pleasure of hosting a house concert for him in July 2010. In a live setting, I was even more blown away by his incredible playing and the depth of his music. "O Christmas" is a brilliant showcase of Isadar’s original interpretations of some well-worn Christmas gems as well as his amazing chops.

The album begins with “Good Christian Men,” a light-hearted, effervescent take on a Christmas classic. Faithful to the original melody, Isadar adds some original passages that make the piece his own. If this one doesn’t give you a lift, repeat as necessary! The medley of “Teddy Bear’s Picnic” and “March of the Toys,” while rather dark and mysterious, conveys a playful and gentle spirit - a favorite. “O Christmas Tree” is smooth and easy-going - a bit slower than you usually hear it. “Still” (“Still, Still, Still”) has become an instrumental favorite over the years and is usually presented in a similar style to “Silent Night.” Not this one! Bouncy and upbeat, Isadar’s version all but dances out of the player - a really fun arrangement! “O Come Little Children” overflows with energy and joy. Hearing Liz Story’s interpretation of “Greensleeves” on the radio quite a few years ago marked a major turning point in Isadar’s music career, and he has updated his homage to that piece with “Greensleeves 2012.” Sparkling yet graceful, it’s a wonderful addition to this collection. “Masters In This Hall” is another favorite. With an intriguing rhythm in the deep bass and a lively melody dancing around the piano keyboard, this is a “big” piece that is really effective with the volume cranked up! “Merry Christmas...And A Happy New Year,” an unusual interpretation of “We Wish You A Merry Christmas,” closes the album. Lively, but more subdued than buoyant and a bit on the dark side, it’s a very unusual and interesting interpretation!

Check it out if you are looking for some something a little different! Recommended!

REVIEWS NEW AGE

Villancicos que suenan de forma diferente y que sorprenderán!
Terminó la Navidad, pero no podemos obviar este CD del pianista Isadar. Nuevamente, su técnica, dominada por una mano izquierda sorprendente, vuelve a deleitarnos, esta vez, en diez composiciones perfectas para las fiestas navideñas. Isadar reúne temas tradicionales con alguna que otra composición propia que gracias a su calidez, encajan a la perfección con el carácter del álbum.

La pieza a destacar en el álbum, por su ritmo y alegría es “Good Christian Men”, más conocida por “In Dulci Jubilo”. En esta pieza, Isadar da muestras de por qué es uno de los pianistas técnicamente más sorprendentes. Isadar juega con la melodía con la misma facilidad con la que su mano izquierda arranca notas imposibles.

El siguiente track se compone de dos piezas “Teddy Bear’s Picnic/March Of The Toys”. Este tema es divertido de escuchar, debe ser muy divertido de interpretar. El juego de las notas saltando en el piano, entonando una alegre y rítmica melodía, muestra una despreocupación estupenda.

“O Christmas Tree”, no posee numerosas variaciones con respecto a la partitura original, tan sólo la energía con la que Isadar golpea las notas y los acordes.

Otra de las piezas que son entretenidas de escuchar en este álbum es “Still”, y sin duda, otra grande en este álbum. Marcar el ritmo es entretenido, tararear la melodía aún más. Me gusta esta pieza.

“O Come, O Come, Emmanuel” es uno de mis villancicos preferidos, y siempre, escuchar nuevas adaptaciones de esta excepcional obra es un placer. Isadar mantiene de principio a fin una intensidad fascinante. Es una de las mejores versiones que he escuchado de este hermoso villancico.

“The Song Of The Wise Men” es una muestra de la técnica de este pianista, donde las manos rompen el ritmo y juegan con pericia sobre el teclado, especialmente la mano izquierda. Muy similar al popular sonido que George Winston ya nos mostrara en sus álbumes dedicados a las estaciones. Otra de mis preferidas!.

Juguetona y entrañable, así es “O Come Little Children”. A base de golpes divertidos de acordes y un enredo de notas, Isadar crea una pieza entretenida, llena de luz.

“Greensleeves” es otro de los grandes villancicos que no pueden faltar en un álbum compuesto por piezas navideñas. Esta nueva versión es completamente diferente a otras que había escuchado anteriormente, de hecho, es completamente nueva incluso en melodía, tonalidad, Isadar ha dado nuevas notas a este villancico, haciéndolo casi irreconocible.

Una de las piezas más espectaculares de este CD es “Masters In The Hall”. Nuevamente, Isadar es capaz de obtener la melodía más extravagante de las notas más imposibles. Siendo la melodía principal un interesante juego de notas y acordes de la parte baja del piano, Isadar consigue sorprender al oyente con su juego de manos. Me gusta!.

Para cerrar el álbum, la famosa “Merry Christmas… And A Happy New Year”, un villancico que en manos de Isadar recobra un nuevo carácter, algo más serio y oscuro que la partitura original.


Christmas es un trabajo compuesto por composiciones originales y villancicos. Villancicos que suenan de forma diferente y que sorprenderán al oyente, destacando no sólo las interesantes variaciones de las melodías que ya conocemos, además se añade un toque de maestría a cada pieza, algo que no pasará por alto el oyente. Recomendable!.

reviewsnewage.com
09/02/13