Review: The Piano Player, Wintertide Collection

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I’m going to start by saying the presentation of this book is exquisite. As I seem to keep saying, I have a whole shelf section dedicated to Christmas piano music, and whilst there are some nice books, few focus on the presentation and design as much as on the music itself. This new Wintertide volume from Faber Music, part of The Piano Player series, contains 20 ‘wintry pieces’ aimed at the intermediate pianist.

The book features illustrations by Edward Bawden, and these really compliment the overall look and feel of the Wintertide Collection, as indeed they do for other volumes in The Piano Player series. By coincidence, Edward Bawden’s illustrations also appear in one of my top five Christmas cookbooks which you can find out more about here.

Review: The Piano Player, Wintertide Collection

It’s worth noting that if you already own other Faber books, particularly the Peaceful Piano Playlist, Christmas and the Christmas Piano Anthology, there are some duplicate pieces, including the same arrangements. For example, Vivaldi’s ‘Winter’, Corelli’s ‘Sinfonia’ and Prokofiev’s ‘Troika’ all appear in The Faber Christmas Piano Anthology, and ‘In the bleak mid-winter’ and ‘Silent Night’ appear in the Peaceful Piano Playlist, Christmas. That said, if you already own these volumes, there’s still plenty in the Wintertide Collection to enjoy.

Review: The Piano Player, Wintertide Collection

The book opens with a familiar favourite, ‘Walking in the Air’ from The Snowman. A festive, and bell-jangling arrangement of ‘Deck the Hall’ is a great addition, offering a good finger workout with the repeated notes. For those who enjoy the ‘Carol of the Bells’ (which I confess, I find repetitive), an arrangement is included which will benefit from real attention when it comes to the articulation.

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A standout arrangement for me was that of the traditional carol, ‘The Holly and the Ivy’. If only we knew who arranged it! Although not well-known outside choral circles, ‘Lo, How a Rose E’re Blooming’ by Praetorius is a nice, hymn-like piece, particularly for advent. There is also a beautifully lilting arrangement of ‘In Dulci Jubilo’, a far cry from the version popularised by Mike Oldfield (of tubular bells fame).

Sleigh Ride by Leroy Anderson

For those who prefer something a little more classical, Schumann’s ‘Winterzeit I’ and Debussy’s ‘The Snow is Dancing’ are included. There is a fabulous arrangement of ‘Winter Wonderland’ by Pam Wedgwood, and Leroy Anderson’s ‘Sleigh Ride’ is always a crowd-pleaser. When books label themselves as for ‘intermediate’ pianists, I tend to think of this around Grade 5. Indeed, most of the pieces in this book will suit players around Grades 4-6, with some pieces such as ‘Sleigh Ride’ perhaps extending in difficulty to the higher grades.

Winter - Vivaldi

There is a good mixture of pieces in this book which will especially please those who don’t want to be too weighed down by Christmas music this winter. Whilst there are some duplicates from other popular Faber books, there were plenty of arrangements in here which were new to me. As I often say, I do wish publishers would credit the arrangers of all the pieces in the book; indeed here, many deserve to be credited as there are some beautiful arrangements. Most of all, this book, as would the others in the series, would make a lovely gift item this Christmas.

The Piano Player: Wintertide Collection is published by Faber Music, ISBN 9780571542048, RRP £9.99.

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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