Brand new for 2023, The Pam Wedgwood Christmas Collection is a real celebration, not just of the festive season, but of the many popular books Pam has published over several decades. This substantial volume contains 32 original pieces and arrangements drawn from her popular series’ Jazzin’ About, After Hours, It’s Never Too Late, and Up-Grade, as well as four new pieces composed especially for this book. Usefully, the pieces are presented in order of difficulty from Initial Grade level up to Grade 5.
So, what do you get in this book? The Pam Wedgwood Christmas Collection contains a good mixture of arrangements of both sacred and secular Christmas favourites, and original works depicting scenes and ideas from the festive period. As I played through this collection, what I really enjoyed was the huge variety of different pieces. I have a whole shelf of Christmas piano books, and to be honest, many contain the same pieces on repeat, so it was pleasing to see some lesser-known carols included here.
If you’re looking for a book of Christmas carols presented in their standard ‘hymn-like’ format, then this isn’t the book for you. But, The Pam Wedgwood Christmas Collection offers players some beautiful arrangements, all accessible to pianists at Grade 5 level or below. I think this is a particular plus-point of this collection. Many of the books which have been published in recent years contain fabulous arrangements, but are aimed at beginners or higher-grade players.
Some of my favourite pieces in The Pam Wedgwood Christmas Collection were actually her own compositions. In particular, ‘The Mistletoe Mystery’, ‘Close Your Eyes’, ‘Robin’, and ‘Look High Above’ were all beautiful pieces for any time of year. If you thought Pam writes and arranges only jazz music, then this volume proves that she remains as versatile as ever. Even for the jazz arrangements included here, they are sympathetic to the original works.
Of the arrangements, I particularly enjoyed ‘The Virgin Mary Had a Baby Boy’ with its alternating 2/4, 5/4, 4/4 and 7/8 time signatures. A real challenge in a calypso style! I also particularly liked ‘I Wonder as I Wander’ and ‘The Angel Gabriel’, both atmospheric and evocative arrangements, with a calming rise and fall to the music. Particularly clever was her arrangement, ‘On Christmas Night – I Saw Three Ships’, effectively combining both these traditional carols.
Overall, a collection which bridges both classical and jazz styles, and both secular and sacred music, for Initial Grade to Grade 5 is very welcome. The Pam Wedgwood Christmas Collection is a real treat, and fabulous value! With a few weeks still to go, this would make an excellent Christmas present too. I’m sure the recipient will enjoy playing them as much as I have. In fact, I think this book will be staying firmly on top of the piano for the next month or so!
[This post contains affiliate links]
The Pam Wedgwood Christmas Collection is published by Faber Music, ISBN 9780571542966, RRP £14.99.
I was sent a review copy of this book free of charge; however, this review is my honest opinion as a teacher. You can find my Reviews Policy here.
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