This album features Christmas music for the piano in a timeless journey through the decades and centuries. These songs have been through a remarkable evolution over the course of several centuries, with the changes they have undergone reflecting the shifting musical styles and cultural influences that prevailed in various times.
The development in popularity of the piano as a household instrument in the 19th century contributed to the spread of traditional Christmas carols and tunes. Christmas songs were made more approachable to a wider audience because of the attractive piano arrangements that composers such as Felix Mendelssohn and Franz Liszt devised for them. Then, throughout the 20th century, Christmas songs were composed in a wide variety of musical styles. Jazz, blues, and popular music were all significant influences on composers during this period. Composers such as Irving Berlin created Christmas songs centred around the piano that went on to become instant classics. An example that epitomizes this era is Irving Berlin’s ‘White Christmas’. The growth of Christmas carols arranged for piano is a monument to the everlasting spirit of the Christmas holiday as well as the development of musical styles throughout the course of history.
For this album, Jeroen van Veen has collected both well-known and lesser-known Christmas songs and arranged many of them for his own piano performance. The programme is freely, alternating slow with up-tempo and virtuosic with intimate songs. Some of the tracks are medleys combining two or more songs. Highlights include the ‘Christmas Fantasy’ by Alexander Rosenblatt, a virtuoso piece that combines several tunes, and the Fred Oldenburg version of ‘Silent Night’, written in answer to a challenge from some of the jazz teachers at the Enschede conservatory to use the strangest chords to harmonise the well-known song.
Packaged to make it the perfect Christmas gift for music and piano lovers, the two CDs come in an attractive tin along with four festive postcards featuring sunflowers in winter.
- For this unique album Dutch pianist Jeroen Van Veen collected Christmas Songs from all over the world. The arrangements, either by well known musicians and/or by himself, present a wide spectrum of styles, from the most simple and intimate medieval song to an elaborate jazzy or minimalistic guise: a fascinating journey of moods, emotions and atmospheres, the well known melodies going through many unexpected transformations.
- Dutch pianist, pioneer and champion of Minimalism Jeroen van Veen plays the piano in his inimitable way: focused, serene and hypnotizing. Praise for Jeroen van Veen on Brilliant Classics: ‘Van Veen is quite brilliant in the quirky fourth [Philip Glass Etude] and his reading of the exquisite, valedictory 20th is excellent.’ Gramophone. ‘Jeroen van Veen’s recording can stand alongside the best from any source, and this [Arvo Pärt] set is worthy of high praise in every regard.’ MusicWeb International. ‘Van Veen is a supremely eloquent performer of his own music. His touch is remarkably varied, carrying none of the hammered urgency of, for example, Michael Nyman’s performances of Nyman.’ Fanfare.