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Music Review

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First Snow


Artist: Robert Prester and Adriana Samargia
Label: Commonwealth Ave. Productions
RRP: £13.99
Release Date: 15 December 2020

Robert Prester and Adriana Samargia release the Christmas album, First Snow, via Commonwealth Ave. Productions. The majority of the performances are vocal-piano duets, but there are occasional contributions made by Bennie Katz or David Edwards on bass, drummer Joel Rosenblatt, percussionist David Schanzer, and vocalists Josef and Jacob Samargia...

Handel’s 'Joi To The World' opens this 12 track (43 min, 28) album of bizarrely presented festive songs. I say "bizarrely" because in most instances the heart and soul of the original works have been ripped out and replaced with self-indulgent (and far inferior) jazz reworking.

Adriana Samargia's vocals are... how do I put this delicately?... an acquired taste. Nasally, whiney and more often than not off key. In fact in the case of 'All I Want For Christmas is You' she seems to be auditioning for the BBC's "antidote to panel games", I'm Sorry I Haven't a Clue. More specifically, the round known as 'One Song to the Tune of Another', in which contestants sing the words of a given song to the tune of a completely different song. However, in that incarnation the results are often hilarious, in the case of Samargia's effort... it melts your ears.

But then she delivers a beautiful rendition of 'Manger Song of Mary' - the one shining beacon in this otherwise lacklustre release (The piano solo 'First Snow' by Robert Prester is another highlight).

While it wasn't an album I warmed to, those that are fans of freeform jazz will probably welcome the change of pace and style that is presented here.

Track listing:
01. Joi to the World - George Frideric Handel (3:56)
02. First Snow - Robert Prester (3:58)
03. Comfort, Comfort, O My People - Johannes Oleariu (4:03)
04. Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town - Coots and Gillespie (2:12)
05. Away in a Manger - William Kirkpatrick (3:13)
06. In the Bleak Midwinter - Gustav Holst (4:30)
07. It Came Upon a Midnight Clear - Edmund Sears (3:09)
08. Of the Father’s Love Begotten - A.D. Clemens (Divinum Mysterium) (3:19)
09. All I Want For Christmas is You - Mariah Carey and Walter Afamasieff (3:58)
10. Manger Song of Mary - Markham and McFeeters (4:20)
11. Masters in this Hall - Gustav Holst (3:28)
12. Blue Christmas - Hayes and Johnson (3:22)


Nick Smithson

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