Imagine timeless carols played instrumentally, as if by troubadours. Ancient & exquisite songs, deep within the human psyche, are now newly arranged by ARIA Award winning guitarist Gareth Koch. The interpretations reveal his signature blend of contemporary flair laced with medieval sensibilities.
The arrangements are both elegant & appealing, sidestepping any notion of commercialised Christmas clichés. Re-imagined as ballads or folk songs, each carol receives a unique treatment. The listener is invited into an array of soundworlds, ranging from the early medieval to English folk-revival.
The music of this album leads us away from the bustle of many modern realities. Instead we are drawn into a gentler universe, filled with subtlety & nuance. In any year, at any time, this album presents a Christmas message we all need to hear.
CD review by Tony Smith
When Gareth Koch’s colourful album landed on my desk, I was contemplating sadly my inability to engage in busking during this Covid Christmas of 2021.
Although our repertoires are slightly different and our instruments bear no resemblance, I found Koch’s tune and carol selection excellent.
The album inspires optimism, and that should be the Christmas message.
This CD is a great individual achievement.
Koch plays the music on various guitars and produced and engineered the album.
He chose the artwork, ‘The Violinist’ by Marc Chagall.
The dominant blue of Chagall might suggest a cold northern hemisphere Christmas, but it also picks up the atmosphere of the peace we wish others in December.
Koch also has assistance from mixer Andrew Beck, William Bowden on mastering, producer Glen Macready and Jamie Coghill in layout.
Koch has been a great collaborator both with other classical guitarists and musicians of many ilks.
He is comfortable in the guitar repertoire from Spain, Italy, Celtic areas and various eras, including the lute music of Elizabethan times.
He is also a teacher dedicated to mentoring young guitarists.
Tracks on this all too brief album, which runs for only 20 minutes, include ‘Little drummer boy’, ‘Coventry Carol’, ‘Pastorale’, ‘Ding dong merrily on high’, ‘God rest you merry, gentlemen’, ‘es ist ein ros entsprungen’ and ‘Veni veni Emmanuel’.
From the opening track, which commands ‘Adeste fidelis’, this album will have you in the Christmas spirit.
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