Friends well met around a Christmas dinner table, and the warm glow after a meal of laughter and stories round the fire. And someone goes to the piano and starts improvising on everyone's favourite carols, and suddenly the evening becomes even more special and it’s a lasting memory well into the year to come. This was the inspiration behind Silent Nights – a peaceful and relaxing collection of timeless Christmas melodies for a quiet moment at the end of the day.
It seems even birds love carols. We recorded our piano deep in the heart of the Norfolk countryside at the wonderful Old Granary, and every time I played the birds sang their accompaniment….you may even hear them in the quietest moments! Even the glorious strings of the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra found competition with the extended dawn chorus.
I think the birds are on to something. What is it about these old and familiar tunes that strikes such a powerful chord within us? How can one particular carol suddenly conjure up memories of childhood, family, Christmases past, loved ones – and sometimes renewed faith and belief? I can think of no other collection of tunes which trigger such instant connections, and it was wonderful to revisit them for this recording, each one painting its own personal picture as I played. Each carol will mean something different to each listener, and that meaning will often go way beyond anything musical. And I hope these new arrangements will, in turn, create their own special memories during those quiet moments which we crave amongst the hurly-burly of the modern Christmas.
These recordings were made during a summer heatwave, but, as we played, the snow started falling on the fields outside, ice formed on the lake nearby, and church bells in the next village rang out their Christmas chimes. Imagination is a powerful thing – but I think the birds know all about that…