Pope Francis said: “God never gives someone a gift that they are not capable of receiving. If He gives us the gift of Christmas, it is because we all have the ability to understand and receive it.” Today Joseph Nimoh releases the EP “The Gift of Christmas”. Here four carols are performed with piano and strings, and then we hear solo piano versions of the same songs. It is a fabulous and original EP that underlines what an incredible gift Christmas really is.
Joseph Nimoh was born and raised in Ghana. He began playing piano at age 11 at his mom’s church. He later studied piano performance at the Berklee College of Music in Boston, Massachusetts, and has released a total of five albums, most recently “Conversations On Piano” and the EP “Introspection”. There’s no doubt that Joseph Nimoh is one of the most promising stars on the New Age music scene today.
Away in A Manger
“Away in A Manger”, perhaps the finest carol of all, is the first song on the EP. The version with strings, wonderfully played by Joni Fuller, sounds joyous and welcoming. The recording is superb. The solo piano version is more gentle. The listener can immediately sense Nimoh’s skilled and passionate playing, and it transforms the carol into something capable of describing the miracle that is unfolding in the manger.
There’s something about the atmosphere in “Angels We Have Heard on High” that seems to bypass the arrangement; the two versions are very similar. I guess it is a statement that the traditional hymn “Gloria”, which the carol is based upon, sounds divine in any context.
O Holy Night
Adolphe Adam’s “O Holy Night” sounds inspired with strings. The orchestral arrangement is amazing. Nimoh does a fantastic job accompanying on the piano; It is festive and grand. When you compare this to the solo piano version, this last version sounds bare – but, at the same time, more genuine.
Listening to the piano and strings version of “O Come All Ye Faithful” feels a bit like stepping into a winter wonderland. Nimoh masterfully lays the foundation, before the strings carefully enter the stage. It is a fantastic ending to this part of the EP, making a beautiful contrast to the solo piano version of “Away in A Manger”.
“O Come All Ye Faithful” makes sure that the album ends on a high note. At this stage, you can’t help thinking that it really doesn’t matter what arrangement a carol has. It all comes down to the meaning, its message. The arrangement is just the wrapping, not the gift itself.
In conclusion: “The Gift of Christmas” by Joseph Nimoh is a well-made and original EP. Nimoh is indeed one of the finest pianists on the New Age music scene today. It is a nice twist to repeat the carols on the piano. It makes the listener reflect on the differences between the versions. I believe it is a comment on how Christmas is not only about grand decorations but about the real meaning behind the celebrations. If we get that, we have – to quote Pope Francis – received the gift of Christmas. Highly recommended!
Score: 94/100 – See our scoring policy
For more information and music samples, see josephnimoh.com