Reviewed by Matthew Cordle
Eric Nordhoff is a pianist who discovered a number of years ago, as many others have done, the beauty of playing the piano quietly in a 1:1 quiet time with God. Since 2003 he has produced a number of CDs of solo piano music aiming to help with meditative worship. A number of these are based on well known hymns/songs and others are original compositions, as is this CD. As the name suggests, the music here is designed to be a backdrop to prayer, and the tracks average 7-8 minutes in length so as not to distract by starting and stopping too frequently. The style is gently reflective and unintrusive, the piano at times accompanied by soft synth pad sounds, acoustic guitar and light percussion. Titles such as "Grace And Peace", "Springs Of Living Water" and "Yesterday, Today, Forever" give an indication as to what Eric had in mind when writing, but these are subjective; whether listening directly or using the CD as a backdrop to prayer, the subject matter isn't aurally apparent. Some would criticise the concept of "Christian" instrumental music for this reason, but I would argue that the ability to create music comes only from our being in the image of our creator God, therefore any high quality music created with the aim of glorifying him is valid. As to whether this CD qualifies as "high quality" music I would suggest there are high points and low points. The piano playing is beautifully emotive and dynamically restrained, thereby lending itself well to meditation, and the tracks that are primarily just piano work well, the highlight for me being "Prayer for Healing". However, the occasional "light percussion" is both extraneous and distracting, and in "Dream Flight" takes us well into the unwelcome territory of DIY-shop muzak. I would cut myself a "special edition" version of the CD without the affected tracks and then it'd be fine.
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