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Folk art forms all over the world reveal startling similarities in their nature-inspired knowledge of the world, and god.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 
 

 Review

Music from a
magical realm 

Celtic Fantasy
David Davidson
Green Hill Music

This album comes from the Celtic world, where fairies and elves work their magic on mundane things

A violin treat from IrelandDavid Davidson is proud of his Celtic origins. He is Scot-Irish. The Irish rebelled against authority, the king and the church by wandering away in their imagination to a land where fairies and elves worked their magic on mundane things.

Celtic music inspires many composers. If you listen to U2 carefully, you will find inflexions of this music. The Corrs, another Irish group, use the violin played in a folksy style. A R Rahman often forages into Celtic music, as in Pachai nirame from the film Alai Payuthe.

And this CD springs from such a world. The violin by David Davidson is poignant, sharp and liquid. In its gambolling, it evokes a misty cheer in The Farmer's Hand (three versions -- introduction, instrumental and vocal) and the Fairy Dance, and a romantic melancholy worthy of Beethoven in Brighid's Blessing(Brighid is a revered Irish saint).

While these numbers are strongly backed by an orchestra of keyboards and drums, Ma Cairenn, dedicated to David's wife Karen, highlights the violin. The orchestra comes in late in this tender serenade. Three minutes into the song, it breaks out into a lively dance step.

The Fianna battle song has a chirpy flute on drums, reminding you a bit of the Pahadi dhun that flute players often play towards the end of the concert. But the stress changes to the violin and the image breaks to reveal a busy army of fairy people, marching. The informative inlay card tells you that the Fianna was the first full time pre-Christian Irish army. The violin with short phrases and punchy bowing changes its own image as a contemplative or swinging instrument to a wiry soldier.

The Knowing Tree, Summer Skye, Fields of the heart and the Farmer's hand are meditative, exploring gently, almost anticipating the result of the quest. The knowing tree reflects the Bodhi tree of Buddhist religion and the arali tree of our south Indian folklore.

The Garden is sung by Caroline Peyton and reminded me of Enya's New Age music. The irony is that when one digs into one's roots, one is termed new age!

Myst over the glen is the only song in the CD written and arranged by Kristin Wilkinson. All other songs are written by David Davidson. The music and lyrics take us back to the romantic notion of simple, pastoral living where the roles of humans are defined, and the land, the sun and nature teaches people to give their all to the task at hand. God blesses the present and the past, not the future.

The Farmer's Hands ends with these words

Our lives are full, with knowledge gained
We take our lives through joy and pain
Our gifts we bring to each day's task
God bless the present and the past


Interestingly the sun is mother to them. In most tribal cultures and ancient civilisations, the sun is male. In Mother Sun while the violin roots with its earthy tone, the airy flute takes towards the sun and the result is the dappled orchestra, shimmering with golden sunlight. Fantasy and dance has some slow violin phrases where the inflexions which are different from the usual Celtic ones. The graces double instead of touching three notes in quick succession, for example, r, g, r, it goes, r, g, r, g and that makes it sound very different in the context of this album.

How wonderful it would be if we could take up our folk music and render it with as much love and respect. Bhoomi by Salim and Sulaiman Merchant is one such effort and has some untouched folk music from north India.

S Suchitra Lata



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