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Christian Music - Reviews, News, Interviews

Classical Music for a Prayerful Mood

  • reviewed by Andy Argyrakis Copyright Christianity Today International
  • 2001 1 Jan
Classical Music for a Prayerful Mood
Sounds like … Slow, contemplative piano sounds, showcasing classical pieces, similar in style to Jim BrickmanAt a Glance … Soothing music, but very similar throughout the disc with no track standing out as being anything that Tesh hasn't done before.

John Tesh will probably always be best remembered as the pleasant voice and face that greeted you on Entertainment Tonight for several seasons, not to mention serving as the co-host and commentator for the Dove Awards, the Olympics and numerous other major sporting events. Having since retired his broadcasting career, Tesh has spent the last decade providing music that's the soundtrack to our lives, although we may not always be aware of it. You probably know his music best from the theme for NBC's coverage of NBA basketball, as well as themes for sporting events ranging from the Olympics and the Pan Am Games to tennis and the Tour de France. Tesh also saw huge success with his live concert recording at Red Rocks, a similar project to the Live at the Acropolis recording released by his genre competitor Yanni.

Of course, the majority of Tesh's music centers around piano pieces, and I'd venture to guess his new-age-styled piano arrangements have been played over just about every department store speaker in America, in countless elevators, and in most major law firms and dentist offices. Within the last few years, his background music has branched out even more, including Christian bookstores now that Tesh has become more outspoken about his Christian faith. His message may not be as overt as, say, an artist who has vocals in his or her songs, but nonetheless Tesh is starting to find his niche in Christian circles. In this regard, Tesh is being marketed along the lines of fellow secular-star-turned-Christian-industry-favorite Jim Brickman, whose gentle piano ballads matched with the vocals of Michael W. Smith and Point of Grace have been hot sellers. As a result, Tesh's latest collection of gentle classical pieces is tailored to induce a prayerful attitude for listeners. Longtime fans will note his exchange of booming instruments and lush orchestral arrangements for solo piano. The songs aren't traditional church hymns or worship songs arranged from a classical perspective as one might expect. Instead, they're interpretations of classical pieces from the past, including "January; By the Hearth," "Prelude Op. 24 No. 1 in E Major," and "Nocturne."

Although all 13 tracks are soothing and contemplative, they have no specific relationship to Christianity whatsoever. In fact, with a change in title to something such as Classical Music for a Peaceful Mood, I could picture this album on a pop-up counter display at my local Hallmark retailer. This is the sixth album of its kind released by Tesh thus far in 2001. Other similar sounding projects include two volumes of Classical Music for Babies (and Their Moms) and Classical Music for an Intimate Mood, released by mainstream counterpart Garden City Music. I'm not trying to discount Tesh's talents in any way, nor am I denying the fact that his renditions of "Musical Moment Op. 16 No. 5 in D Flat Major" and "Intermezzo" are beautiful. I just think that the word "prayerful" was thrown into the title so it could be better tailored to Christian consumers. This disc may put many in a prayerful state. Although my tensions were eased throughout its duration, I struggled with staying awake the entire time and couldn't quite shake the demographic capitalization out of my head