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Carlos NUÑEZ
Un Galicien en Bretagne

Tro Breizh
Noite Pecha ¹
Gavotte-Pandeirada ¹
Une Autre Fin de Terre ²
Karante Doh Doue 4
Polka de Karnoëd
An Hini A Garan ³ º
The Three Pipers
Saint Patrick's An Dro
Yann Derrien ª
Bretoña
Un Galicien Libre à Paris ²
Ponthus et Sidoine *
Carlos Nuñez and his band with:-
Alan Stivell, Celtic harp, voice ¹
Jordi Savall, viola de gamba *
Dan Ar Braz, electric guitar ²
Gilles Servat, voice ³
Bleunwenn, voice º
Eimear Quinn, voice ª
Les Kanerion Pleuigner (Morbihan), male voice choir 4
Recorded in Galicia, Brittany, Catalonia and Ireland, dates not given).
SONY/SAINT GEORGE 5110222 [46.16]


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This disc represents one of my recurring sounds of this summer on the Atlantic seaboard of France and is an indicator of an ongoing musical continuum running down from the Hebrides, through Wales, Ireland and Brittany to "Green Spain" - Cantabria, Asturias and Galicia. The Celtic folk/classical/jazz tradition is alive and well and represented superbly here by Galician maestro Carlos Nuñez and his brilliant collaborators, reviving memories of his extraordinary debut disc, Brotherhood of Stars (RCA Victor 74321 453752), which featured various and significant contributions from The Chieftains and Ry Cooder.

Here, as the title suggests, the music is infused with the Breton musical heritage it pays tribute to, from the contributions of various bagadou (pipe bands) to harp doyen Alan Stivell, "el grande", as Carlos describes him, Dan Ar Braz and the charismatic singer-songwriter Gilles Servat. The opening Tro Breizh is, literally, a tour of the Breton lands and their varied musical styles, with Nuñez's flute to the fore, among accompaniments by turns refined and abrasive. Noite pecha and its following Gavotte-Pandeirada were written/arranged with Alan Stivell and here, in the nostalgic melancholia, there are echoes of the latter's recent masterpiece, Au dela de mots. Dan Ar Braz's Une Autre Fin de Terre is a melodic guitar driven instrumental brought to a resounding climax by the pipes and bombardes of the bagadou of Lokoal Mendon and Auray (a companion piece to Green Lands on Nuit Celtique - see below).

The great collector and restorer of Breton folk music, Polig Montjarret, is namechecked for the next two tracks which contrast very greatly with each other - Karante Doh Doue is a marvellous choral piece sung by the only male choir in Brittany and bearing great resemblance to the Basque vocal tradition (see Oldarra (Erato Detour 0630-19345-2), whereas Polka de Karnoéd is a brisk, very folksy insrumental piece. In the following ballad, Gilles Servat and Bleunwenn relate another traditional song very winningly, then Nuñez brings together the pipe traditions of his own Galicia with those of Ireland and Scotland in self-explanatory The Three Pipers. Saint Patrick's An Dro is the album's masterpiece (and also featured on Nuit Celtique), with a simple flute based introduction leading to a massively affecting massed piped finale. Eimar Quinn sings the lilting Yann Derrien superbly before Nuñez pays tribute to the Breton influence on Galicia and Dan Ar Braz does the same for him regarding France. The closing Ponthus et Sidoine finds us in a monastery in Catalonia with the great viola da gamba player Jordi Savall, producing a unique piece of music whose only comparator, to my knowledge is the still astonishing Chartres by Swiss violinist Paul Giger (ECM). Ten, fifteen listens later I remain totally entranced by this disc and the simultaneous Nuit Celtique (SAN5111862), a compilation featuring Nuñez but also Stivell, Ar Braz, Gilles Servat, Denez Prigent's astonishing duet with Lisa Gerrard, Gortoz A Ran (featured in Black Hawk Down) and, again, numerous bagadou. In addition to the quality of the music in these two discs, the fact that Sony would release such an inflammatory version of The Foggy Dew by Servat and ex-Dubliner Ronnie Drew is the source of some comfort to me - maybe "old Europe", via Japan(!), still has at least some sort of artistic leverage against the right-wing, "Protestant", "born-again", materialistic, militaristic, hypocritical claptrap that now appears to dominate every aspect of mainstream America, and, if the powers that be had their way, would do so in the UK as well, in these sad and desperate times.
"And in the trees of Brittany, all the birds are singing for you,
…for freedom blooming in the dew".

 

Neil Horner

 



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