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Alan Stivell - Renaissance De La Harpe Celtique CD (album) cover

RENAISSANCE DE LA HARPE CELTIQUE

Alan Stivell

Prog Folk


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Chris S
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
2 stars I was first treated to this album in about 1975 and whilst I appreciate the album in terms of themes and melodies it never really reigned supreme. The celtic harp playing is wonderfully hypnotic at times and Alan Stivell shows his true talents but there are a whole host of other fine musicians that lend a hand to this studio offering. The bass in particular stands out nicely accompanied by great choral arrangements. The standout piece of music would have to be ' Gaeltacht' but my personal favourite is ' Ys' the opener and it is IMO more distinctive sounding than the rest of the album. Alan Stivell was for this reviewer and early pioneer of the harp, others followed like Andreas Vollenweider and even some of Vangelis's work is similar but of course Stivell has that folk edge to his music. The album is good and would be a great starting point for anyone wanting an initiation to this French artiste. Two and a half stars.
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Posted Sunday, February 8, 2009 | Review Permalink
kenethlevine
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Prog-Folk Team
5 stars "Reflets" represented a teaser of STIVELL's early 1970s recordings with its blend of mournful (and occasionally playful) vocals with harp and other folk accompaniments and a little rock thrown in. It alluded to his indefatigable drive, now 4 decades old, to keep the tradition alive by holding its feet to the fire. "Renaissance de La Harpe Celtique" seems to be STIVELL apologizing for having forgotten his raison d'etre, that being to truly revive this blessed instrument with the help of a complement of the most committed Breton musicians of the time. This album is precisely what it claims to be, thereby silencing those who might cry "pretentious". Its influence on myriad performers to follow assures its status as a turning point in Breton, world, new age, and progressive music, none of which says anything about its own artistic self-sufficiency. For that, you have to listen, because no description could do justice to the ardent meticulousness herein.

Stivell wisely includes an array of traditional instrumentation that complements the harp, among which are the bombarde, pipes and flute, all of which he plays as well, a battery of cellos, and the cultivated guitars of one DAN AR BRAZ, all in proportional perfection. Whether basking in the shimmering opener "Ys", the elegant neo classical "Eliz Iza", or the multi part multi national "Gaeltacht", one is moved by this 37 minute mantra. Stivell never allows the listener to stray, not just because of the constant shifts and the breathtaking virtuosity, but because all other thought, reverie, even fantasy is rendered mundane in its company.

As I've implied, the thousand vessels launched from "Renaissance..." have too exerted their own influence and contribution in realizing the dream of one Alan Cochevelu, harp player, passed down by one Jord Cochevelou, harp maker. The best news for you is that this dream is one to which you can return as often as you wish, to be reborn alongside it.

Report this review (#877560)
Posted Monday, December 17, 2012 | Review Permalink
BrufordFreak
COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars This is an album that was recommended to me by the music reviewers in Audiophile magazine and for which I have always been extremely grateful as I consider it a masterpiece of beautiful melodies and one of the earliest successes at putting Celtic music to electric rock band accompaniment. 1. "Ys" (8:49) is the proggiest song on the album opening with gentle waves on the beach sounds followed by some gorgeous chord sequences and eventually joined in by with double bass/cello and hand drums, and wooden flute. (10/10)

2. "Marv Pontkalleg" (3:34) is a stunningly beautiful song performed on solo harp. (9/10)

3. "Extraits de manuscrits gallois: Ap Huw and Penllyn" (2:58) is a pretty if odd-tempoed piece for solo harp. (8/10)

4. "Eliz Iza" (2:56) is an amazing little piece with the support of chamber strings, choir, and, at the end, bagpipes, drums and electric bass. (10/10)

5. "Gaeltacht Medley: Caitlain Triall/Port Ui Mhuirgheasa/Airde Cuan/Na Reubairrean/Manx Melody/Heman Dubh/Gaelic Waltz/Struan Robertson/the Little Cascade/Briagh Loch Iall/Port an Deorai " (18:53) contains parts and pieces of 11 traditional folk songs. Beautifully done. One can only wonder what the lyrics to these songs would sound like with Alan's accompaniment.

One of the finest early examples of folk music integrating with the support of both classical and electrified rock instruments (organ, bass and drums). I've always thought, since I first heard this album in the late 1970s, that GENESIS must have heard this album before they set out to do Selling England by the Pound because there are melody lines in Renaissance of the Celtic Harp that are heard note for note from the guitars in several songs on Selling England--notably in "Cinema Show," "Firth of Fifth," and "Dancing with the Moonlight Knight." More than a coincidence? Hard to believe.

Report this review (#1336374)
Posted Friday, January 2, 2015 | Review Permalink

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