"BEHOLD THE GREAT REDEEMER: Sacred Hymns, Vol. III," by Garth Smith, G&D Productions, $14.99
LDS pianist and composer Garth Smith recently released his third album, "Behold the Great Redeemer," and it is his best yet. With a set of seemingly unrelated tunes — from sacrament hymns to children's songs to a Christmas carol — Smith manages to weave threads of continuity through the album while offering an inspiring piano meditation on the Savior.
It's not often that the list of favorites racks up quickly as CDs of hymn arrangements are played for the first time, but "Behold the Great Redeemer" manages to deliver winning tracks one after another.
Smith, a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and Brigham City native, has a distinguishable style in the way he alternates cascading arpeggios and solid chords, yet the most majestic of the pieces is the one that breaks most from this pattern. Performed with a pleading sense of heartfelt emotion, "How Great the Wisdom and the Love" brings to mind past moments of earnest prayer and nearly compels listeners back to their knees. There is spiritual power in the sincerity Smith has clearly put into the album and is worth a continuous cycle through the track.
If there is a weak spot in the CD, it would be the quality of the recording. The richness and depth of the grand piano is lost between live performance and instant playback, with either less-than-ideal equipment or mixing resulting in a brassier, tinkling timbre. This, however, can be overlooked, and doesn't detract terribly from an uplifting listening experience.
"Behold the Great Redeemer" is Sunday listening near its best. While not a must-buy, it is certainly not a wasted purpose. Smith's arrangements and powerful performance are joys to listen to, and will likely have musicians flooding his website to purchase the sheet music.
'Lead Kindly Light' by Garth Smith
"Lead Kindly Light" by Garth Smith from "Behold the Great Redeemer, Sacred Hymns, Vol. III."
Jennifer Ball is a freelance journalist out of Los Angeles specializing in food criticism and LDS media.