Author: Florida, Debra
Date published: February 1, 2012
Wondrous Hymns, Book 1, 8 Contemporary Arrangements of Traditional Hymns of Hope and Wondrous Hymns, Book 2, 8 Contemporary Arrangements of Traditional Hymns of Power, arranged by James Koerts. Alfred Publishing Co., Inc. 2011. www.alfred.com; 43 pp., $12.99 each.
These two new additions to Alfred's Sacred Performer Collections contain a wonderful compilation of contemporary, soloistic arrangements of traditional, well-known hymns. As a church musician, my read-through of these two albums was sheer delight. The collections are classified by Alfred as earlyadvanced piano. The arrangements, masterfully crafted by James Koerts, are musically satisfying, fresh and artistic, yet the traditional hymn tunes are easily recognizable. Harmonies are complex and appealing. Several arrangements employ syncopated patterns and meter changes; most contain at least one key change and contrast of style or character.
I currently have a number of high school students who often provide special music at church. These collections would have great appeal, and I believe they would work well as supplementary lesson material with many teaching elements. The arrangements are technically, and often rhythmically, challenging, but accessible. Many of the pieces contain extensive use of octaves and octave chords. The editing is clear and helpful; fingerings are minimal, but adequate. Pedal use is indicated, but without specific markings. One nice additional feature is the approximate performance time of each piece.
A few of my personal favorites: In Book 1, "Amazing Grace" is beautifully fresh, with an underlying syncopated motive, cross rhythms and an increasing intensity that is compelling and satisfying. In Book 2, "Crown Him with Many Crowns" combines traditional power with contemporary rhythms and harmonies; "I Sing the Mighty Power of God" radiates rhythmic energy, and takes delightfully surprising turns, with imaginative extended modulations.
It was my good fortune to be asked to review these collections for AMT I've discovered a gem - for myself and my students. - Reviewed by Debra Florian, NCTM, Pou¨bo, Washington
-Reviewed by bebra Florian, NCTM, Poukho, Washington