This CD commences as yet another solo piano recital of hoary tunes from ages past, but, like the manipulated photograph on the cover, first takes can be deceptive. Dan Miggler's processed photo of a stand of trees on a lonely winter's day projects a perfect cross between realist, abstract, and objectified modes. You have to look twice and closely to figure out just what it is your eye's baffled by. All seems obvious enough, but no, something's unusual here. Likewise, Kyle Pederson's piano interpretations of venerable Christmas songs are, at first blush, almost reverential (recorded in a Lutheran church no less!) but soon take on Windham Hill, Satie-esque, and expressionistic turns of phrasing and tempo. Silent Night, in fact, is so quietly mutated in sections that one loses sight of the melody line, engrossed in sonic sidepaths, only to find it resurfacing slowly from over the shoulder. Thus, 12.25 is not your typical seasonal release though it intermittently sounds like it.
There are also aspects of Guaraldi's Peanuts evocations here, the quieter tunes wherein one saw Schroeder pensively exploring a favored song, slow secret smile stealing across his face as a notion of decorative escapades crept in for embellishment and divertimenti. This disc, in other words, is not a churchy high mass nor a cloistered set of benedictions but rather a George Winston-mindful New Age collection of traditional spiritual songs shorn of excess baggage and softly lit with candles and alpenglow. Do You Hear What I Hear is particularly salient of why this collective cannot be deemed ecclesiastical: the leap of the refrain from its trad confines into a higher plane of freedom would never be countenanced by Jesus mercantiles or authoritarian preacher councils. Nonetheless, there's still the whispering air of times past and modes now foregone, the memory of what was, mixed with a more unfettered élan, right hand dancing while the left maintains an earthier bottom register necessary to contrast the two, in Gabriel's Message especially illuminating a snowy garden of frost angels and feathery crystalline flakes swirling in careless breezes far away from city noise and bustle.
Far away from the nuisance of the necessary…that's the whole key here, and 12.25 blends the best lyrical elements of both sides of the fence, religious and secular, for a result that is as quietly surprising as it is decorously attractive.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2011, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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