various artists,
Tidings of Joy
(EverSound, 1999)

Eversound's "musical journey into the heart of the holidays," Tidings of Joy, is the first CD that I have found that can rival Mannheim Steamroller's Christmas music as the very best. While Mannheim Steamroller has a robust, energizing style, this collection of Eversound artists performs these beautiful melodies with a serene, delicate style that actually seems more appropriate for the holiday celebrating the birth of Christ. They have added life and pep to the traditional classics for a totally new sound and tossed in a couple of brand new pieces.

I found something outstanding to comment about in every selection. How do I narrow it to just a couple? "Angels We Have Heard on High" has always been one of my favorite carols, but I have never experienced it like this -- the best rendition of this classic to date. I cannot imagine that any performance of this song could ever exceed this one. The layered harmony is a knockout! John Adorney takes the keyboards and guitars to a whole new plane of artistry! This is a strong introduction to their CD and sets the mood for the entire collection. It holds this high level throughout.

"Away in a Manger" is so unique that I had to check the display on my CD player to make sure I was listening to the right track. I did not recognize it as the timeless classic that I have been listening to all of my life. While pleasing to the ear and extremely beautiful, this version strays too far from the traditional song for me to really like it as such. It would have been better to add a few more changes and call it a new creation.

"God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen" has a fluegel horn that will seep deeply into your soul and lift your spirits. This is the ultimate in a peaceful and serene Christmas carol. And check out the pennywhistles!

Michael Whalen won my heart and ears for life with his outstanding composition of "Hark! The Herald Angels Sing." Wow! What a combination of instrumental sounds. This is layered to the max with some serious percussion supporting a fabulous melody! I could set this selection on repeat and never tire of it.

The following artists are featured in this collection: Stuart Hoffman (keyboards), Richard Hardy (flute), Daya Rawat (vocals), John Adorney (keyboards, guitars), Manuel Iman (guitars, keyboards, percussion), Kim O'Leary (vocals, keyboards), Geoff Bridgford (bell tree, vocals, guitar, drums, percussion)), Jonn Serrie (keyboards), Ron Clearfield (cello), Lucia Iman (vocals), Michael Whalen (Synclavier, EWI oboe, Fairlight III, synthesizers, percussion, guitars), Basbiri (percussion), Nigel Holton (keyboards, percussion, French horn, fluegel horn, vocals), Richard Hardy (recorder, pennywhistles), Donna Holton (vocals), Eduardo M. del Signore (basses), John Mills (guitar, chime harp), Lisa Harbor (viola) and Katherine Harbor (cello).

When you read through the instruments and parts played by each artist, you realize how intricately these pieces have been composed. As I listened to this CD, I could picture two radically opposing scenes: a Christmas party with a large crowd of formally dressed celebrants and a candlelit living room with a dancing flame in the fireplace and a couple. ... It seems that Eversound has produced the ideal Christmas CD for all occasions. Get this one and celebrate the holiday in your own special way.

- Rambles
written by Alicia Karen Elkins
published 31 May 2003

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