For the third year in row, we are turning to the Germany-based British guitarist Rossini Hayward to help get us (even more!) in the holiday spirit. This time he plays a beautiful version of the traditional Catalan Christmas folk song El Noi de la Mare (“The Virgin’s Son” of “Mary’s Son”), which has been a fixture in the classical-guitar canon since Andres Segovia popularized Miguel Llobet’s transcription of it in the mid-1940s. Since then it’s been played by everyone from 2Oth century guitar giants such as Julian Bream, John Williams and Christopher Parkening, to more current virtuosi ranging from Tatyana Ryzhkova and Uros Baric to Kyuhee Park and Adam Ciccillitti, the Newman & Oltman Duo, and many, many more. Hayward’s sprightly version is faster and more rhythmic than many; indeed it features him adding his own percussion (tapping on the guitar and hand claps) through overdubs on the main performance from October 2020.
Hayward has been working out his arrangements of various Christmas songs for a number of years now, but the exciting news is that it has finally culminated in a wonderful new album, called Stille Nacht: Christmas Carols for Guitar, on the Naxos label. Included are splendid versions of such favorites as The Coventry Carol, Lo How a Rose e’re Blooming, Silent Night, In Dulci Jubilo, We Three Kings, God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen, and many more (18 in all!). You can hear them all on Spotify. And, if you are so inclined, the sheet music to all the solo arrangements have also been published in the book Christmas Carols for Guitar by Ut Orpheus. Highly recommended! —Blair Jackson
And here are the videos we posted in 2018 and 2019: