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Thursday, April 28, 2011

Alan Stivell: Au-Dela Des Mots


1) La Harpe, L'Eau, Le Vent (A); 2) La Celtie Et L'Infini (A); 3) La Celtie Et L'Infini (B); 4) Dihun Telenn vMarzhin; 5) La Harpe Et L'Enfant; 6) Bleimor, Le Bagad; 7) Gourin-Pontivy; 8) E Kreiz Breizh; 9) Goltraidhe; 10) Et Les Feu­illes Repousseront; 11) Demain Matin Chez O'Carolan; 12) Harpe Atlantique/La Route De L'Etain; 13) La Celtie Et L'Infini (C); 14) La Harpe, L'Eau, Le Vent (C).

It does not require a deep knowledge of French to understand that this is yet another purely ins­tru­mental album from Mr. Stivell, and, as such, not deserving of a long review. This one is less explicitly ambient than Harpes Du Nouvel Age: the arrangements are more complex, and the overall spirit is a bit more dynamic ('Bleimor, Le Bagad' refers to the music of Breton pipe bands called bagad, and, sure enough, an actual ear-bursting bagad is enlisted; and 'Gourin-Pontivy' is a very quiet, hushed-down, but still danceable tune).

On the other hand, it is certainly no Renaissance Of The Celtic Harp: next to Stivell's landmark breakthro­ugh record, this one is just a modest collection of pretty, but relatively unstimulating and mostly unremarkable melodic weaves. However magical and otherworldly the sound of the Celtic harp may be, there are certain limits to it; being tailor-made for exclusive needs of traditi­onal Celtic melodic patterns, it cannot be molded into much of anything else.

Nevertheless, it is probably quite indispensable for any major lover and/or student of the harp, as well as for everyone who loves proverbially deep titles such as 'La Celtie Et L'Infini' (much as listening to the actual melody convinces me of its oxymoronic nature, unless under 'Infini' he ac­tually means infinitesimals). Me, I'm only qualified to acknowledge its soothing New Age-style qualities, rather than recognize its thematic depth and adventurous spirit.

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