Christmas Night by Rick Sparks
“Christmas Night” is the 6th solo release for composer and pianist Rick Sparks. The instrumental album is 10 tracks and was partially inspired by the annual BBC broadcast of the King’s College Christmas Eve service held in Cambridge, England.
Most of the tracks on “Christmas Night” are from the 19th century and are perfect for Rick’s gorgeous neo-classical arrangements consisting of piano, strings, flute, bells, and angelic voices. There are 2 tracks on the album that are Rick’s original compositions.
“Christmas Night” opens with the title track, one of the originals by Rick. This instantly “says” Christmas with its soft, twinkly bells in the beginning of the piece. Sweet strings and angelic voices bring this all nicely together. This is a great composition, perfectly executed, and has a peaceful lullaby quality to it, which is very calming to the psyche.
The equally calming “Christ is Born” follows. The bells at the beginning are beautiful and soothing, as is the lovely angelic choir, giving this, and the entire album, actually, a truly heavenly quality. A Christmas favorite, “The First Noel” is gentle and soft, with the flute taking the lead melody in the beginning. The soft strings and piano arrangements are superb, with the angel voices adding an ethereal quality.
“Hark the Herald Angels Sing,” is another well-known seasonal favorite and this arrangement is completely wonderful in every way. The angelic choir voices have the melody in the beginning, bringing more comfort and solace to soothe the soul. Aptly, we can really feel and hear the angels singing here, and the song ends with an angelic acapella choir. Quite lovely!
With its flowing piano melody by Gustav Holst, beautifully played by Rick, “In the Bleak Midwinter” is a favorite on this album. Gentle strings and tender angelic voices complete the arrangement, which truly is exquisite.
“What Child is This?” may be familiar to many as the “Greensleeves” melody. Again, here, the arrangement is outstanding and a variation of the traditional melody at the end of the piece makes this very beautiful.
The melody for “Infant Holy, Infant Lowly,” dates back all the way to the 13th century. This is very much like a lullaby, with the addition of some original musical bridges by Rick. Another great arrangement here, with bells and angelic choir in the beginning, as well as sweet flute and more angel voices intertwined on the verses. Soft, gentle, sweet, and comforting.
As I mentioned earlier, the album “Christmas Night” was partly inspired by the King’s College Christmas Eve service. That service begins each year with the first verse from the carol, “Once in Royal David’s City,” which is sung acapella by a single boy’s voice. Here, Rick does the same, only with “angel voices.” Strings join in, and on the 3rd verse we have both angelic choir plus strings.
The quintessential carol, “Silent Night” is always peaceful and calming. Here, the flute takes the lead melody making this sweet as can be. Strings, tender piano, and the angelic choir elevate us and the song to the high heavens. Really nice.
The album closes out with the 2nd original composition by Rick on this album. “Nativity” is inspired by the music of English composer, Ralph Vaughan Williams. Wonderfully written, composed, and played, strings and angel voices give a beautiful finish to this special album.
A note: When Rick asked if I would review this album, I told him I don’t review Christmas albums. It’s not that I’m a horrible Scrooge, but I am just not that “into” the season. He told me he thought I would really like this one and asked if I would please give it a listen and reconsider. Well, I did so. And I don’t just like it. I love it. You will too. This album is a “must-have” for this season and beyond.
Listen and get it here:https://ricksparksmusic.hearnow.com/
Alsoavailable from Amazon Music, Apple iTunes, Google Play, Spotify and many other outlets.
Artist website: www.ricksparksmusic.net