Sunday, December 6, 2009

Kristin Chenoweth

Kristin Chenoweth’s “A Lovely Way to Spend Christmas” is a great reflection of who she is as a person and an artist. It showcases her faith, her talent, her sense of fun and her Oklahoma roots.

I love Kristin’s interpretation of “Do You Hear What I Hear?”, which was my favorite carol when I was a child. I have more than 30 recordings of Christmas music and not one features this song, so it’s especially welcome to me. “Do You Hear?” has always captured the wonder and power of the Incarnation, but here, arranged and conducted by Broadway veteran Jonathan Tunick, it becomes more reverent with its echoing and the interweaving of “Gloria in excelsis Deo.” Gently powerful.

Kristin successfully uses the pairing of two songs in another track as she sings “Sleigh Ride” and cabaret artist John Pizzarelli joins her with “Marshmallow World,” once again arranged and conducted by Tunick.

“Silver Bells” is given a new spin, or at least new to me. It has a country slant probably inspired by Kristin’s southern background. Her past also is reflected in “Come On Ring Those Bells,” which is a rousing rockabilly number with a solid Christian message -- “Come on ring those bells/ Light the Christmas tree/ Jesus we remember this your birthday.” I really get a kick out of this one. It makes me feel I’m in a diner in Texas listening to the junk box. Good for Kristin for putting together a Christmas CD full of surprises.

The complete track listing is:

1 I'll Be Home For Christmas
2 Christmas Island
3 The Christmas Waltz
4 Do You Hear What I Hear?
5 Sleigh Ride / Marshmallow World
6 Sing
7 Silver Bells
8 Come On Ring Those Bells
9 What Child Is This?
10 Home On Christmas Day
11 Born On Christmas Day
12 Sleep Well Little Children / What A Wonderful World

This is Kristin’s third CD. I’ve been enjoying the first two -- Let Yourself Go and As I Am. I’m also happy she’ll be back on Broadway soon in Promises, Promises. She was last there in The Apple Tree, which I saw Off-Broadway and on and loved. Before that it was Wicked and a slew of others, including her Tony-winning role as Sally in the revival of You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown. If you haven’t seen her in any of those shows, you may have caught her on TV in “Pushing Daisies,” “The West Wing” or her own series, “Kristin.” Her movie credits are numerous; right now you can see her in the DVD of “Four Christmases” with Reese Witherspoon. It’s good to experience Kristin in whatever form we can get her.

The CD title, A Lovely Way to Spend Christmas, is appropriate because listening to this CD is just that. Thanks for another good one, Kristin!

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