Gwyneth Walker

Folk Carols for Christmas

for Piano (2019)

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These folk carols (songs) are known for their starkly beautiful melodies and harmonies -- simple, yet moving. In creating new piano adaptations, the composer has enjoyed revisiting the original tunes, exploring a few new trails of thought.

The "Cherry Tree Carol" is a ballad -- a song of many verses telling a story. This piano adaptation allows for the steady flow from one verse to the next. The two opening verses are followed by a brief middle section, marked delicately, inspired by the small cherries which Mary gathers. This music grows in intensity in telling of Jesus' birth. And then, with sudden simplicity, the opening theme returns quietly as an ending.

"Jesus, Jesus, Rest Your Head" is a gentle lullaby with a refrain in chordal, hymn style. These refrains alternate with verses and interludes which are more rhythmic and freeflowing in character. Tenderness is an essential quality throughout.

"Go Tell it on the Mountain" is an exuberant song which this arrangement attempts to control in a recitative-style opening section. [!] But the music erupts into an energetic refrain filled with rapid patterns marked suggestive of guitar-picking style.

the opening lyrics for this last song are I wonder as I wander, out under the sky. And it is this image of a solitary soul out walking at night beneath the stars that inspires this arrangement. Octaves in the high range of the keyboard are marked as stars. These stars dance lightly above the melody. A freely-notated middle section allow the stars to sparkle above a gentle earth underpinning. The sky fills with stars, and then the music quiets to the end. One lone star shines.

Notes by the composer