The Christmas Album

by: David Lanz

This mega popular new age pianist -- who jokingly refers to himself as a SNAG (Sensitive New Age Guy) -- has been one of Narada's core artists since the mid-80s and has one of the genre's best-selling albums of all time in 1988's Cristofori's Dream. Over the years, Lanz has contributed elegant arrangements of holiday classics to a series of label samplers, and in 1994 he put out Christmas Eve, which tied more interpretations together with brief improvisations. This release is stunning musically because he's on the mark whether he's hypnotizing with unique upper-register harmonies over tunes everyone has heard a million times ("Silent Night") or playing his own classics like the orchestral-fueled "Beloved." What's curious about this collection is what its exact point is. It's not a full compilation of his Christmas catalog (that would require his best snowy tune ever, "Rock the Herald Angels" with Paul Speer on Narada's second Christmas sampler) and it features tunes from a few of his non-holiday albums. Sure they're all beautiful and romantic and put you in the mood for snowfall and candles and warming up by the fire. But it's kind of an odd mix of greatest hits. Any true Lanz fan most likely has versions of these tunes elsewhere (though several were recorded at the Guthrie Theater Christmas Concert). So this collection is most suited for those who'd like to sample him or those who just have to have another grand instrumental Christmas CD in their pile. ~ Jonathan Widran

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