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Peaceful Christmas Piano Solos from Hal Leonard offers a collection of 30 seasonal pieces arranged for solo piano. Stick with me to find out what’s included… and whether it’s any good!
A Peaceful Collection?
Housed within a subtle, understated cover, Peaceful Christmas Piano Solos succeeds in looking very sophisticated from the outset:
Within, printed on 88 white pages, are the 30 solos, which are as follows:
- Angels from the Realms of Glory
- Auld Lang Syne
- Away in a Manger
- Blue Christmas
- Bring a Torch, Jeannette, Isabella
- Christmas Lights
- Coventry Carol
- The First Noel
- Have yourself a Merry Little Christmas
- The Holly and the Ivy
- (There’s No Place Like) Home for the Holidays
- I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day
- I Wonder as I Wander
- In the Bleak Midwinter
- It Came Upon the Midnight Clear
- It’s Beginning to Look Like Christmas
- Let it Snow! Let it Snow! Let it Snow!
- The Most Wonderful Time of the Year
- O Come, All Ye Faithful
- O Holy Night
- O Little Town of Bethlehem
- Once in Royal David’s City
- Silent Night
- Silver Bells
- Walking in the Air
- What Are You Doing New Year’s Eve?
- When a Child is Born
- White Christmas
- A Winter’s Tale
There’s certainly a lovely mix here, ranging from traditional classics to the swinging Christmas favourites of the mid twentieth century. Here’s a collection which certainly boasts lots of appeal!
To what extent these pieces are all peaceful is more open to debate; certainly some of the arrangements and song choices lean more towards the Christmas party and enthusiastic spirit of the holiday season more than to those quiet hours after the children go to bed on Christmas Eve!
It should be noted here that no words are included: these are very much solo piano arrangements of the songs. We are not told who arranged them for solo piano, but they have certainly done a pretty solid job.
The arrangements would suit players at late-intermediate to early-advanced level, as is typical for piano songbooks of this kind, and an awareness of stylistic conventions such as swung quavers is assumed.
Pedalling is sometimes (admittedly, a little randomly) included, but regrettably there are no fingering suggestions (a recurring problem with such piano songbooks). Some will be happy to busk their way through the collection without sparing this a second thought; for the best musical outcome of course I would recommend giving careful consideration to fingering alternatives.
Some phrase marks and limited dynamics are present, but for the most part interpretation is left to the player, which is fine given the ubiquity of Christmas songs from October onwards each year: these arrangements actually provide an ideal opportunity for players to explore their own personal interpretation.
Harmonies at times venture towards the jazzy end of the spectrum (including in the more traditional tunes such as Adolphe Adam’s gorgeous O Holy Night, which here benefits from some lovely major seventh chords), and I found the arrangements to be in good taste throughout, if not quite pianistically equal to the excellent Phillip Keveren arrangements I recently reviewed from the same publisher.
A big draw of this publication is the spot-on selection of seasonal music, blending together so many great pieces in one affordable book. Most appear here in better-than-usual arrangements, too, making the book a delicious concoction for the Christmas holiday season.
Reservations are few and far between, and I really can’t imagine anyone being disappointed in this excellent collection.
Peaceful Christmas Piano Solos is without question one of the best and most useful anthologies of its kind currently on the market. Bravo!
Also available • Andrew’s essential handbook:
How to Practise Music
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