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Rick Wakeman - Christmas Variations CD (album) cover


Rick Wakeman

Symphonic Prog

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3 stars Well, I thought, I'm a sometime Wakeman fan and its getting near Christmas; so I saw this available and thought I'd give it a go. I was mistakenly under the impression it was entirely piano, but there's large amounts of synth. Its not unpleasant but the best pieces are those that are piano led, in particular track 3, Christmas is coming, one that I'm not familiar with. RW adds some nice touches; the album never (quite) descends into elevator music because Wakey plays like he really cares about the music. However it is in truth, average at best.

Head says 2 stars; heart says 3 - heart wins, it being this time of year!

Report this review (#153874)
Posted Monday, December 3, 2007 | Review Permalink
3 stars 'Tis the season, and what better way to usher it in than to listen to the Caped One's renditions of classic Christmas songs.

In this album, Rick takes some of the most insipid and simplistic Christmas songs, translates them into a classical style with a dominant keyboard sound and let;s you enjoy the tasty sonic goodness. Old standards such as "Away in the Manger" and "Silent Night" are practically unrecognizable after Rick gets through reworking them, and that';s a good thing. Rick is well known for "classifying" simple tunes (usually in the style of a specific composer) but here he seems to have put a bit more thought into arrangements than normal.

Three stars, but a very very likeable three stars.

Report this review (#1322198)
Posted Tuesday, December 9, 2014 | Review Permalink
kev rowland
Crossover Team
4 stars Having already released an album of variations on hymns, it was suggested to Rick that he record variations on Christmas carols. Originally, he deferred, but finally relented and the end result is an album of variations on ten classic carols. When I say "classic" I mean exactly that, as everyone in the Western world will recognise these, and even sing along (even if it is just inside their head). I have long felt that Rick is often at his very best when he allows himself to go deep inside the music and let his hands do the talking through his piano, and that is definitely the case here. It's not all piano-led, there are plenty of synths as well, but they tend to be played as if Rick was still sat at a harpsichord or piano.

The only word to truly describe this album is "beautiful", and at this time of year I can't imagine a more tranquil and wonderful way of getting into the Christmas spirit. This isn't an album that will be played in shops with all the plastic razzmatazz where they attempt to persuade everyone that the true spirit of Christmas is how much you spend on gifts, but rather is a thoughtful and contemplative approach to the season. There has been a great deal of thought and care put into these variations, and I can "see" Rick with his eyes closed (as normal) falling deeper and deeper into the music, taking the simplicity and giving it more meaning and love. If I have to suffer carols at Christmas, then truly this is the only way to do it.

Report this review (#1839950)
Posted Friday, December 8, 2017 | Review Permalink

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