Two short reviews today from the northern and eastern edges of Europe, yet the average number of bagpipes per band in this post rivals Scotland thanks to the Griff Trio. (And a reviewer manages to fit “subtle” into the same thought as “bagpipe.” Find out how below.)
Cirkari-Gypsy Music From Eastern Europe
[ARC Music EUCD 2266 (2010)]
While there is nothing on Cirkari—Gypsy Music from Eastern Europe that hasn’t been heard before, the Argentinean-based trio Zingaros still comes through with some deliciously appealing original and traditional pieces. Montero, Macchion, and Garate excel in setting up riotous music with slow moody intros that swell and burst when least expected. Although their renditions of classic Armenian and Gypsy music are surprisingly the least provocative (though still quite good), the talent of Zingaros lies in their more creative and bombastic pieces. They create engaging, intense pieces that flow seamlessly from one song to another, leaving the listener fully involved in the creative narrative.
There might not be anything truly groundbreaking here, but re-inventing the wheel does not always have to be the goal. Heavy on strings, accordion, and talent, this take on Gypsy music is bound to leave all comers satisfied.
—Mike Tager (Baltimore, MD)
[Appel APR1319 (2009)]
The Griff Trio is the three bagpipers (Birgit Bornauw, Raphaël De Cock, Rémi Decker) from the Belgium band Griff, minus the rhythm section. While the thought of three pipers playing at once might seem at first overwhelming, the trio takes a subtle approach. Astragu is a collection of winter seasonal music drawn from many different traditions. Much of it has an early music/medieval sound, including most of the vocal tracks. While the group is from Belgium and some of the tracks are draw from that tradition (including the traditional “Salut à la Compagnie,” which was inspired by Malicorne), they include selections from Ireland, Wales, and Cypress along with a few original compositions. The playing is both nuanced and subtle with the interplay between the three pipes being the most important aspect of the music. They also all play whistles and which adds some nice variation to the sound with the wonderful “Marche de Pelerinage” being the best example. The singing is very churchlike, with “Judici” being an actual Gregorian chant. While the liner notes aren’t in English, there’s a full-color downloadable booklet that does contain song descriptions in English. A most interesting recording and not like any other bagpipe recording you’ve ever heard.
—Jim Lee (Simi Valley, CA)
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