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Non-Prog CD Reviews

The Great Kat

Christmas Classical

Review by Gary Hill

The Great Kat seems to always defy expectations. She certainly came to the attention of many, myself included, for her classical-leaning shred guitar playing. There is a more pure classical side to her, too. And she plays violin just as well as she does guitar. So, I wasn't sure what to expect here. This lands closer to the pure classical side of the equation, but the arrangements have more modern music elements at play. All of these instrumental pieces are short. In fact, 20 songs run less than 25 minutes. I have to say that I really like this a lot. It is unusual and intriguing.

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Track by Track Review
Away In a Manger
This instrumental take of the classic song features violin and what sounds like drum machine.
O Holy Night
The mix on this is similar to the opener, but this has more energy and rhythmic arrangement is more involved.
Silent Night
Not a big change, this has some piano, but almost feels like an extension of the last track into a medley.
Home Sweet Home For Christmas
Another that feels cut from similar cloth, there is some prominent piano on this track.
Chopin’s Nocturne Night Before Christmas
There is more of a waltz approach to this piece. It's intriguing and works well.
Nutcracker Candy Cane by Tchaikovsky
This energetic romp seems about ready to cut loose and really start shredding, but it stays classical in nature instead.
Greensleeves Christmas Carol
While no big change, this is another solid tune.
Vivaldi’s Winter Snow Storm
Frantically paced and very cool, this is one of my favorites here.
Bach’s Jesu Joyeux Noël
I love the classical concepts at the heart of this, too. This is another standout number.
Handel’s Hallelujah Messiah
There is more of a driving, rocking element to this number. It's all class and another highlight.
Pachelbel’s Canon Christmas Eve
I really like this one a lot. It's such a pretty piece of music, and it's delivered with passion and style.
Amazing Grace Merry Christmas
Let me go on record as saying that "Amazing Grace" is a piece of music I very much dislike. It gets altered enough here to be more bearable, but I think folks who don't have my feeling of distaste toward it will like this much more than I do.
Beethoven’s Christmas Presents Für Elise
Now, we go from a song I don't really care for to one I love. This treatment of the piece works really well. It's not a big departure from the rest of the album, but it's quite strong. It does get into an unusual speeding up movement near the end.
Ave Maria Mistletoe
Here we have another winner. It's not one of my favorites here, but it works very well. I think it's just the strength of a few of the other pieces that keeps it from rising to the top for me, rather than any weakness here. It's packed full of emotion.
Bach’s Sheep May Safely Graze Holiday Classic
This works quite well, too, while not presenting any real surprises.
Swing Low, Sweet Chariot Sleigh Ride
The arrangement on this serves it well.
Flower Duet Yuletide
A gentle classical vibe is on display here.
Boccherini Merry Minuet
I really like the classical sounds on this, and the more modern groove that some of it has. It's another interesting instrumental track.
He’s Got The Whole World In His Hands Santa
This is an unusual, but effective classical take on familiar sounds.
Auld Lang Syne Christmas Hangover
I think this is one of my favorites here. It just works so well.
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