02 December 2020
By Ellie Palmer
Need some ideas on what to get your loved one this Christmas? We've got a few in mind...
Christmas is fast approaching, and for some of us it could be the perfect way to end what has been a turbulent year.
If you're able to spend time with your loved ones this Christmas, and you're looking for that ideal gift, we're here to help you out.
1. Carnival of the Animals – The Kanneh-Masons
The much adored Kanneh-Mason siblings recently released their debut album together, and it's one of the most heart-warming releases of the year.
The seven brothers and sisters – Isata, Braimah, Sheku, Konya, Jeneba, Aminata and Mariatu, recorded Camille Saint-Saëns The Carnivals of The Animals set at London's famous Abbey Road Studios. The album also includes poems written by children's author Michael Morpurgo, read by the author himself alongside Academy Award-winning actor Olivia Coleman.
Alongside the album is a hardback book featuring written version of all the poems narrated on the album.
This is a gift suited to anyone of any age; a truly family-friendly album.
2. John Rutter Christmas Piano Album & The Piano Collection
Choir leader John Rutter has transcribed eight of his favourite seasonal choral pieces for piano, designed for early intermediate-level players. The John Rutter Christmas Piano Album includes A Child's Lullaby, Angels' Carol and The Colours of Christmas.
The transcriptions include the lyrics within the piano score, allowing the possibility for a family singalong (safely does it, of course).
Alternatively, you can opt for Rutter's latest album, The Piano Collection. Pianist, organist and conductor Wayne Marshall performs all eight arrangements, as well as an extra nine pieces including The Lord bless you and keep you, A Clare Benediction and Be thou my vision.
3. Immortal – Jessica Duchen
Did Beethoven have a lost love?
According to Jessica Duchen, it appears so.
In her latest book, Immortal, Duchen delves deep into the secrets behind a love letter written in Beethoven's handwriting that was found after his death. Who is the subject of his love letter, then? None other than Countess Josephine Brunsvick.
Duchen explains: "I visited the Beethoven-Haus in Bonn and saw its exhibits about Beethoven's love life, which seemed to prioritise Josephine Brunsvick. Reading more about her, I became hooked... There is also some suggestion that Josephine had an impact on some of his music. One might say, in the end, that only the music matters."
For those who fancy a 400-page Christmas read, in this the landmark Beethoven anniversary year, Immortal should be the perfect place to start.
4. Lang Lang – Goldberg Variations (Deluxe Edition)
"I recorded each variation five times," Lang Lang explains inside issue 117 of Pianist.
This recording has been a work in progress for 20 years for the Chinese pianist, which is when he first started working on the monumental set.
Not only does this release include the studio recording, but also the live recording which took place at the famous St. Thomas Church in Leipzig back in March 2020. The church is known as Bach's musical and professional home and it’s where he is buried.
Lang Lang describes what it was like to play Bach's own variations inside the church in which he is buried: "Towards the end of Variation 30, I began to look over to where Bach is buried. For the entire piece, I had been intensely focused, but at that moment, I started thinking of my connection to Bach, right from when I was a little kid and I played a little minuet.
And then having learned so many Bach pieces since then – and now being in the famous St Thomas' Church. Wow."
5. Microphone suitable for online piano lessons
In a year when many of us have had to sacrifice physical piano lessons for online piano lessons, this microphone set may be the perfect gift for either the piano student or piano teacher in your life.
Many teachers may decide to stick with online piano lessons even after the pandemic has settled down, so why not be prepared and make sure your lessons are top quality?
This Shure SM57-LC microphone is a dynamic microphone, making it ideal for piano playing during a lesson as it will pick up the entire range of frequencies produced by the piano.
However, if you are only needing a microphone for communication during the lesson and not for piano playing, you will be better suited to a condenser microphone. You can find a great one here.
6. Big Phat Jazz Piano Solos
Despite being released in early 2018, this book has shot back up in popularity in recent months.
This book contains piano solo adaptations of jazz band composer and pianist Gordon Goodwin's most popular Big Phat Band titles.
Musically challenging but technically accessible (intermediate-advanced), these piano pieces capture the essence of the Big Band jazz.
7. A new piano!
Kawai's new CA99 digital piano
If you have a much larger budget to play around with, you might be considering buying your loved one a brand-new piano.
It's so hard for us to suggest just one for you, which is why we put together a 100+page Piano Buyer's Guide full of all the latest piano models.
You can browse through it and download it for FREE below.
8. Novelty gift mug
It wouldn't be a gift guide without a terrible joke on a mug, would it?
Apologies, we couldn't resist.
9. Beethoven: The Complete Piano Sonatas (Grammy-nominated)
If you want to treat your loved one to only the best, you cannot go wrong with Igor Levit's Complete Beethoven Piano Sonatas recording.
The album was recently nominated for a Grammy in the BEST CLASSICAL INSTRUMENTAL SOLO category. (Winners announced on 31 January 2021.)
This was one of the most critically acclaimed albums of 2019, as shown by its inclusion in the New York Times' 25 Best Classical Music Albums of 2019.
10. FREE piano book when you subscribe to Pianist
Subscribe to Pianist magazine for just £4.50 an issue and receive Faber's brand-new piano book, 'Play piano for well-being'.
This sheet music book includes a collection of music of a wide variety of genres, expertly arranged for piano solo and chosen to promote well-being for pianists. The 30 uplifting pieces are ideal for intermediate-level pianists and are presented as a specially curated playlist.
Worth £12.99, this book is completely free when you subscribe to Pianist.
11. Enjoy up to 20% off a 1-year print subscription to Pianist
What better than to gift a loved one with over 240 pages of sheet music, interviews with the cream of the crop in the piano world, piano lessons on a whole range of technical challenges, and more, all spread evenly across a year?
It's the ultimate gift for any piano lover, especially if they are looking to improve their playing.
12. Play Mozart
We've released our brand new digital special, Play Mozart, just in time for Christmas knowing that this could be the perfect gift for someone.
Inside you'll find:
✔ 10 Mozart scores ranging from beginner to advanced, including the famous 'Rondo alla turca'
✔ 3 'how to play' step-by-step lessons on three of the pieces
✔ Videos of famous Mozartians in performance
Go on, put a smile on their face with Play Mozart.
13. Playing By Ear: A Songwriter's Way – John Geraghty
Author John Geraghty's brand new guide to Playing By Ear is full to the brim of professional advice and video demonstrations. It's more than worth the affordable £13.99 price tag.
Wondering who it's suitable for? It's suitable for all songwriters, pianists, singers, musicians, music producers and music teachers who are wanting to learn how to play by ear on the piano.
John has taught much of the content in this book inside the pages of Pianist in past issues, specifically in issues 109-114. You can download these issues here.
14. Piano Performance Workshop with Graham Fitch
Why not gift your loved one a unique piano workshop with one of the UK's most in-demand piano teachers?
On Sunday 7 February 2021 pianist, teacher and adjudicator Graham Fitch will be hosting Pianist's first ever Zoom Piano Performance Workshop.
Both auditor tickets AND participant tickets are available. There are eight participant spaces on the workshop. Participants will be give one-on-one online coaching from Graham on a piece of their choosing. Auditors will sit back, enjoy and soak in Graham's teaching.
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