Midwinter Born
  • Released: August 3, 2013
  • 18 track(s)

MIDWINTER BORN reinterprets classic Christmas carols in a modern setting. Mueller captures the quiet simplicity, expectant playfulness, and over-riding joy of the season.

Few songs are more loved than the carols of Christmas. Most of us have memorized dozens, yet, for the most part, we have no idea who wrote them. Mueller’s liner notes delves into the history of each. Almost none of these composers and poets lived to know how popular their work would become. Mueller dedicates this album to them. And to his mother, who never lost her willingness to toil in anonymity as a singer and arranger.

“Tobin Mueller’s ‘Midwinter Born’ is a top solo piano pick this year. He has a lot that’s new to say with a generous helping of standards.” - Dr. Christmas (Gerry Grzyb), 2013.

Tobin Mueller’s Midwinter Born is one of the most original solo piano Christmas albums I’ve ever heard. Using a broad mix of musical styles - usually more jazz than new age but impossible to classify - Mueller puts a very personal spin on a collection of eighteen songs of the season that includes several medleys. From the gorgeous cover artwork to the extended liner notes on Mueller’s website, this project was lovingly created as a personal expression of the joy and meaning of the Christmas holidays.” - Kathy Parsons, Mainly Piano

“Midwinter Born introduces fresh takes on 18 familiar Christmas tunes. Mueller probes the traditional melodies for hidden harmonies, chromatic variants, and fanciful improvisations. In each case his departures from the original have poetic and musical logic, and they deepen and expand the universe of the melody.

“The colors he is able to coax from the keys are rich and evocative, and the tempos he explores add variety and vigor to the music. Of particular interest are Hark the Herald Angels Sing, gracefully and elegantly set in a New Age jazz milieu; Carol of the Bells, where his piano captures both the sonority and the tinkling of the bells as well as the spiraling flight of the swallows; and the exquisite simplicity of O Tannenbaum, where the theme ebbs, flows, and breaks up with the rustle of the wind in the trees.

“Mueller plays with a clean, sometimes deliberate articulation, and one is often aware of the dialogue between his two hands - a feeling that adds an unexpected energy and tension to the arrangements. The sound is very present and live.”

- Carla Maria Verdino-Süllwold, Fanfare Magazine, 2014.


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