The Wondrous Gift: A Pure Piano Christmas – Reviews
“Fans of piano music will find much to enjoy on Jeff Bjorck’s latest CD, The Wondrous Gift. Comprised entirely of classic carols, Bjorck’s performance on a well-recorded Yamaha C7 concert grand piano is at once contemplative, innovative in interpretation, sound in technique and just plain beautiful. His recording engineer, Bill Pearson, wasn’t afraid to let the depth and wonderfully full lower registers of the C7 come through on these recordings, and it adds immediacy to all of the selections. Many of your favorite carols are here in the 12 included tracks, along with a few that aren’t often heard, such as “Bring a Torch, Jeanette Isabella” and “Coventry Carol.”
Few instruments can be as evocative as a solo piano. Bjorck has concentrated since 1997 on producing solo piano recordings, and with “The Wondrous Gift,” he has given piano lovers a Christmas gift of his own.”
“In the hustle and bustle and cacophony of Christmas, this year there is a selah: a collection of songs handpicked by pianist/composer/arranger Jeff Bjorck and his listeners (via an online survey) as personal favorites. Some will undoubtedly be your favorites as well. Mine, Oh Little Town of Bethlehem, opens the CD, followed by a reverent and reflective O Holy Night. Bjorck s ability to never lose the essence of a song, but at the same time infuse it with a renewed meaning and arrangements fresh and fragrant as a live Christmas tree, makes this a cherished keeper. It is a lovely collection of classic Christmas songs to keep and play from year to year.
The Wondrous Gift is filled with solo piano, alternately reverent and festive energy, ascending and descending arpeggios, and melodic surprises. Bjorck infuses the Coventry Carol with the solemnity it deserves (as it refers to Herod s massacre of the innocents) and its spacious and thoughtful arranging reminds us of the paradox and bitter sweetness of Christ s incarnation.”
“The Wondrous Gift is pianist Jeff Bjorck s own wondrous gift to lovers of traditional Christmas music – especially solo piano Christmas music. …This CD should please those who love fresh solo piano arrangements as well as those who want the melodies left intact – not an easy balance, but I think Bjorck has achieved it. Knowing Bjorck s background in theology, it is no surprise that the twelve carols are sacred pieces – no Jingle Bells or Frosty, the Snowman….Jeff Bjorck has been one of my favorite artists since his debut thirteen years ago, and The Wondrous Gift will be a favorite Christmas album for many years to come. Very highly recommended!
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Beautiful contemporary arrangement of timeless Christmas classics
I am a big fan of Jeff Bjorck, a talented new age/contemporary solo pianist, so I was delighted to discover this Christmas album of his. Through renditions of classic Christmas carols recast with a contemporary, light flair, Bjorck’s album provides a delightful alternative to stuffy traditional Christmas music or the pop songs that set your teeth on edge. The album covers many of the familiar beloved Christmas carols (O come all ye faithful; O little town of Bethlehem; O holy night; Hark the herald angels sing; Away in a manger; What child is this; Silent Night; It came upon a midnight clear) but also offers a refreshing assortment of carols not as commonly known–and *definitely* not overplayed: Coventry carol; Bring a torch, Jeannette Isabella; O come, O come Emmanuel; and Come, thou long-expected Jesus.
Bjorck’s style is reminiscent of George Winston, David Nevue, or David Lanz, so if those artists appeal to you, you would probably like this album very much. The songs on the album are so consistently strong that it would be hard for me to pick out a favorite, but two tracks that stand out in particular in my opinion are “O come, all ye faithful,” which Bjorck infused with an interesting syncopated rhythm that gives it a nice contemporary air, and “Silent Night,” which begins more sedately and traditionally but then bursts into a lovely delicate variation that transforms it into something entirely refreshing and new.
This album would be good for anybody who enjoys contemporary solo piano, or who is looking for Christmas music full of beauty and meaning. It is so easy and tempting to forget what Christmas is really all about in our modern hustle and bustle of shopping and eating to excess. “The wondrous gift” helps to restore the quiet joy and grace that is the true heart of Christmas.
~~Monica J. Kern (Lexington, KY United States)
Most Relaxing Christmas Music Ever
The Wondrous Gift is definitely a Wondrous gift to the world. It is perhaps the most relaxing Christmas compilation ever. With the fast pace of the Holidays, it is a wonderful way to slow down and savor the moment. Do yourself a favor this season with The Wondrous Gift. Piano and Christmas rolled into one.
~~Joyce Boyette, Shelby, NC
The reason I ordered this CD is to have nothing but piano music. So many of the other artists that play instruments end up putting a vocalist…usually just one… on the CD, and for me, it ruins the mood of the CD. If I wanted vocals, I would order a CD with vocalists included. I play this CD, and the other 4 by Bjorck, constantly at work. It drowns out noises that tend to break my concentration and interrupt my work. The music also relaxes me in times of stress. I would recommend this CD and the 4 others to anyone who likes to listen to relaxing music.
this music gives lovely, timeless respite from holiday rush and hype
In this fast paced world, it is hard to find music that helps you slow down and listen. Bjorck’s thoughtful, rich textured interpretations of these lovely songs are timeless. They are classic songs in the sense that they bring back fond, familiar, sometimes bittersweet memories of times past. At the same time, this music always offers unexpected, interesting subtlety that is all Bjorck’s own. The sound is full and large, both wistful and joyful. You will want to curl up with a mug of tea, close your eyes and savor the sounds.
~~Katherine P. Placek, Yardley, PA
Beautiful Piano Christmas Music
This is one of Jeff’s best cd’s ever. I love the piano and Christmas together – a match made in Heaven. The pieces are all familiar melodies, nothing secular or jazzy. I would recommend this cd to anyone who enjoys the true Spirit of Christmas as portrayed through music, and especially through the piano.
~~Merry Mary, Nashville, TN
I am very familiar with Bjorck’s Writings. The Wondrous gift is a masterpiece. From the very first piece to the end it immediately brought peace to my heart. Silent Night takes me to childhood memories of soft falling snow on a winters night. Every song has a gentle melody reminding us of the heartwarming season. I purchased the Wondrous Gift last year and am excited to be taking it out for the coming Holiday Season and many seasons to come.
~~Arlene Current, Greeley, PA
Jeff Bjorck is an incredibly talented artist. His arangements are beautiful and offer a challenge for any pianist. I highly recommend any musician to check out his work and enjoy!!!
Twelve “jewels” perfectly “set” around the Nativity
Jeff Bjorck has a gift for interpreting timeless melodies in fresh ways, limiting himself to–while exploring the boundaries of–the 88 keys of his piano. His are neither rote reproductions of songs from a hymnal, nor the meandering improvisations of a jazz artist. Rather–he finds just the right “setting” as a jeweler selects the perfect setting to display the unique beauty of a gemstone. His Christmas album accomplishes exactly what it sets out to do: it places a dozen “jewels” in carefully crafted settings around the Nativity and allows them to reflect the beauty of the Savior’s birth on their own terms.
~~Steven J. Simpson, Amityville, PA