Stille Nacht: Christmas Carols for Guitar was released in 2020 by NAXOS. Recorded are a sequence of Hayward's Christmas carol arrangements that range across centuries and over continents. These beautiful pieces respect the original carols while bringing to them ingenious new features. Seven of the arrangements involve overdubbing by Hayward himself with voice, percussive effects or guitar, adding new colours but showing that he always 'understands the charm and power of simplicity' (Classical Guitar).

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1. Ihr Kinderlein kommet / 2. El noi de la mare / 3. In dulci jubilo / 4. Coventry Carol / 5. Es ist ein Ros entsprungen / 6. The First Nowell / 7. Stille Nacht / 8. Les Anges dans nos campagnes / 9. I Saw Three Ships / 10. We Three Kings / 11. Forunderligt at sige / 12. Entre le bœuf et l'âne gris / 13. Jul, jul, strålande jul / 14. God Rest You Merry, Gentlemen / 15. Leise rieselt der Schnee / 16. Tu scendi dalle stelle / 17. Once in Royal David's City / 18. O Tannenbaum / 19. Christmas Bells

Playing Time 53:18

Pieces of Mind: Classical Guitar Compositions and Arrangements was released in 2018. It is a collection of compositions and arrangements Rossini Hayward has made for the classical guitar. The music featured on this CD spans from the Renaissance to works of the present day. To read the Classical Guitar Magazine review please click here.

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1. "Raindrop" Prelude Op. 28 No. 1 - Frédéric Chopin / 2. Il bianco e dolce cigno - Jacques Arcadelt / 3. Hänschen klein- Traditional / 4. Schlaf, Kindlein schlaf - Traditional / 5. Variations on a Theme of Beethoven (Homage to Fernando Sor) - Rossini Hayward / 6. Innsbruck, ich muss dich lassen - Heinrich Isaac / 7. Der Mond ist aufgegangen - Johann Abraham Peter Schulz / 8. Tannhäuser Fantasy - Rossini Hayward / 9. O Haupt voll Blut und Wunden - Johann Sebastian Bach / 10. Through Twilight Woods - Rossini Hayward / 11. Londonderry Air (Danny Boy) - Traditional

Playing Time 53:38

Stille Nacht Reviews

The Arts Desk 19.12.2020 - "More non-vocal seasonal fun from guitarist Rossini Hayward, his unfussy arrangements of an eclectic selection of carols enlivened with overdubbed vocals and percussive effects. The results are delightful. Finger taps and soft vocals give this "Coventry Carol" an irresistible swing, and "God Rest You Merry, Gentlemen" becomes a foot tapper. The rarities make this disc, however, with tunes by Nielsen, Gustaf Nordqvist, Eduard Ebel and Alphonsus Liguori. Hayward’s own "Christmas Bells" is a crowd-pleasing closer, assorted friends and family members singing the three verses while an overdubbed guitar line mimics a typical English bell-ringing riff. Lovely stuff, and warmly recorded."

Explore Classical Music - As the pandemic has impacted virtually every aspect of music-making in 2020, Rossini Hayward's “Stille Nacht” is a happy byproduct of these often-isolating times. For this Naxos collection of 19 Christmas carols and songs, the British guitarist creates the impression of a small guitar ensemble by overdubbing, or digitally layering, himself, one track at a time. 

The idea came to Hayward one day in 2019, as he was practicing his version of the German carol In Dulci Jubilo (contained in a book of solo guitar arrangements that he published in October). “I was playing along with it in my room and I just started tapping my foot,” he said. “Then I started adding some ‘cha cha’s' and rhythmic speaking. And that was really what gave me the idea to expand these arrangements with overdubbing.” 

In Hayward’s hands, the somber We Three Kings is transformed into a joyous, multi-guitar jam, the Italian carol Tu scendi dalle stelle is enriched with flamenco-style clapping, and the Catalan song El noi de la mare is flavored with percussive knocks and taps. “I was spending a lot of time at home tapping the guitar in different ways, with my nails or with my knuckles,” he recalls. “There are so many different sounds that you can make from it.” 

The starting point for Hayward’s arrangements was Stille Nacht (Silent Night), which was first sung on Christmas Eve 1818 in an Austrian village to a guitar accompaniment. Hayward, who graduated from the Hochschule für Musik Freiburg in 2012, includes several other German-language songs including O Tannenbaum, with its luminous harmonies suggesting a well-trimmed Christmas tree. 

Hayward also solicited some suggestions for carols. A Swedish friend proposed Gustaf Nordqvist’s Jul, jul, strålande jul (“Yule, Yule, Glorious Yule”) while Hayward’s mother-in-law suggested Eduard Ebel’s Leise rieselt der Schnee (“Softly Falls the Snow”), which uses a gentle tremolo to give the impression of falling snow. Among the English carols is Once in Royal David’s City, whose opening verse Hayward once sang as a boy chorister. 

The album’s finale, Christmas Bells, is an original song based on a church bell motif that Hayward heard as a child in Wales, and later, as a student at Oxford University. As he plucks a bell-toned accompaniment, family and friends sing the verses, evoking an old-fashioned sing-along. “I've been here in Germany for about 10 years,” Hayward says, “and it was coming here that made me miss Christmas a lot back home. The things that I really loved about Christmas were family and music. I realized it's such a huge part of what Christmas is.” 

Pieces of Mind - Reviews

Classical Guitar Magazine 2018 - " Rossini Hayward was a new name to me when this album turned up in the post, but I became a fan on first listen. The English guitarist/composer explicitly states in the liner notes that in his compositions and arrangements on the disc, he was looking for and attempting to express beauty in different manifestations. And at that he succeeds admirably. But lest you think this is some gauzy, maudlin, easy-listening exercise designed to tug at your heartstrings, I can assure you it is not that at all.

Part of what makes this album so interesting is that Hayward is a skillful and unpretentious arranger with an ear to material that fits the guitar well. He’s not out to dazzle us with impossible fingerings, though he is clearly a very skilled player. Rather, he understands the charm and power of simplicity, as in his arrangements of several old German lullabies and children’s songs, a short piece by Renaissance composer Jacques Arcadelt, or his appropriately wistful reading of Londonderry Air/Danny Boy. His arrangements of Chopin’s “Raindrop” Prelude, Op. 28 and Bach’s O Haupt voll Blut und Wunden (“O, sacred head now wounded,” from the oratorio St. Matthew Passion) both evoke beauty in different, more profound ways, perhaps. Hayward is credited with three originals, two of them his own extrapolations on existing themes: His variations on Beethoven’s “Ode to Joy” are delightful and imaginative, the conceit being that they are presented as an homage to Beethoven contemporary Fernando Sor (particularly evident in the final variation); and Hayward’s Tannhäuser Fantasy artfully stitches together themes from the mid-19th century opera by Richard Wagner. Hayward’s Through Twilight Woods is completely in keeping with other pieces on the album, with moments of evocative simplicity—gentle melodies, harmonics that sound like church bells—but also more modern harmonies. The album was recorded by the great English engineer John Taylor in February of 2018." 


Soundboard Magazine Volume 44 No. 3 September 2018 - " The musically named Mr. Rossini Hayward hails from London and now lives in Germany. He provides an elegant program of pieces, many never played on guitar before, and most sounding quite at home in his refined playing. Hayward plays transcriptions ranging from a Chopin Prelude through German folk songs (one of which will be infamous as the beginner piano piece “Lightly Row”!) through music by Isaac and Bach to “Londonderry Air.” They are extraordinarily pretty. He includes several original works, one an homage to the Sor Mozart Variations, but this time using the famous theme from the last movement of Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9. Undoubtedly anachronistic compositionally but nicely done. And where else but here can you hear themes from Wagner’s Tannhäuser done up nicely for guitar! Beautifully recorded by John Taylor."