Known for their colorful variety of styles and creative arrangements, flute and cello duo Terra Voce's winter-themed seasonal CD continues their exploration of diverse traditions from around the world.
-From the CD's liner notes:
In our winter jig set we start with "The Snowy Path", an Irish slip-jig written by Mark Kelly of the Irish group Altan, and follow it with two more traditional Irish jigs, "The Frost Is All Over" and "Apples in Winter."
Our arrangement of "A Little Child", a beautiful Norwegian carol, was inspired by the recordings of hardanger fiddle virtuoso Annbjørg Lien and the Irish group Solas. Compared to a standard violin, the hardanger fiddle has four additional sympathetically resonating strings (non-fingered) that give the instrument a more open, ringing tone. Although Andrew’s cello lacks the extra strings, we kept the resonance of this Nordic instrument in mind.
When we first listened to the beautiful "Benedictus" vocal duet from the "Christmas Oratorio" by Camille Saint-Saëns (1835-1921) we immediately wondered about the possibility of a song-without-words version. This idea grew into a wonderful opportunity to record with our friend Christopher Johnson on the famous organ at The Riverside Church in New York.
"Green Sleeves to a Ground" is a set of flute variations that appears in publisher John Walsh’s “The Division Flute” collection of 1706. The actual tune probably dates back much earlier to the 1580s. The legend that Henry VIII wrote Greensleeves is unlikely to be true. The tune was eventually used by William Chatterton Dix in 1865 for the Christmas carol, "What Child Is This?" which we refer to in our final two variations.
We first heard the waltz "Brafferton Village" played by Northumbrian piper Kathryn Tickell with the Chieftains on their "The Bells of Dublin" recording where it is listed as Irish traditional. (Others attribute the tune to Tickell.) "Christmas Eve" is a very popular Irish reel that has been attributed to fiddler Tommy Coen.
"Villancico Yaucano" (Yauconian Carol) is a Puerto Rican carol composed by Amaury Veray (1922-1995) in 1953. The text is in the voice of Juan, a poor vegetable vendor from Yauco, Puerto Rico, as he makes birthday gift offerings to the baby Jesus. He offers a rooster, a bag of coffee, root vegetables, and most importantly, his heart.
Tamás Szarka is a member of the Hungarian group Ghymes (based in Slovakia) and his song "Tánc a hóban" (Dance in the Snow) has haunted us since we first heard it. The 7/8 meter seemed to mesh well with a "Macedonian Air" we first heard performed by the wonderful Breton flutist Jean-Michel Veillon with guitarist Yvon Riou.
We adapted the harmonization of the traditional Breton carol "Sleep of the Infant Jesus" found in a collection of flute duets arranged by Karen Suzanne Smithson.
"Niño Lindo" (Beautiful Boy) is an “aguinaldo” (carol) usually referred to as Venezuelan, though some Peruvians may disagree as to its origins! The 5/8 meter at the start of our arrangement is very common in the Venezuelan aguinaldo style. We thought it blended quite well with the energy of the Bolivian villancico "Gloria a Jesús."
"Fuyu Momiji" (Winter Maple) is composed by Alcvin Takegawa Ramos and Satomi Saeki for shakuhachi and koto. Their beautiful recording led us to approach them with the idea of arranging it for simple-system flute and cello. The title refers to the red foliage of a Japanese maple tree in winter. This piece is a cross-cultural expression of the composers’ combined Japanese and Canadian roots.
"There Is No Rose of Such Virtue" is an English carol found in an early 15th century manuscript. The composition has been partially attributed to John Dunstable (1390-1453), but this attribution seems far from certain. Although the carol is associated with Christmas, it is more specifically a devotional hymn to Mary.
The Basque carol "Birjina gaztettobat zegoen", was collected by Charles Bordes and published in the series "Archives de la tradition basque" in 1895. This carol was translated into the English "Gabriel’s Message" by Sabine Baring-Gould. We first heard the "Galician Carol" on a recording by Galician piper Carlos Nuñez. He attributes this jig to Christmas celebrations of 1829 at the Mondoñedo Cathedral in Galicia. The carol builds with the wonderful addition of the bodhran played by the highly versatile musician, Paddy League.