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French Celtic

Symphonie Celtique
Symphonie Celtique
By Alan Stivell

Disques Dreyfus: 1995

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Legende
Legende
By Alan Stivell

Disques Dreyfus: 1995

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These reviews first appeared in the October 13, 1995 issue of the North County Blade-Citizen (now North County Times).

Not the usual Celtic artist, French harpist Alan Stivell explores the Gaelic traditions of the Brittany coast of France, where the ancient Celtic tongue of Breton nearly died out before being officially and culturally embraced in the late 1960s. In his hands, the most traditional Celtic music is melded with the improvisation of jazz and introspective meanderings of New Age, creating something with new colors, new sides.

"Legende" is a reissue of a 1983 recording, while "Symphonie Celtique" was recorded earlier this year. The symphony is the more interesting of the two recordings. Stivell's harp is joined by chorale and bagpipes (Irish and Scottish) for an effect that is both deeply traditional and fully modern.

"Legende" is more traditional, with chanting and hand percussion behind flute and Stivell's harp.

Being issued by the French jazz label Dreyfus, both albums' liner notes are in French (with the lyrics translated from Gaelic to French – not much help to an American fan!) so unless you're semi-literate a français, you might find the going tough.