Dirty Linen Folk & World Magazine REVIEW
The ancient hammered dulcimer, according to Sansone, has followed the migrations of early travelers across Asia Minor to the European continent. And in these 12 pieces, Sansone and company have pushed that versatile instrument on into the 21st century. This collection rings with the rich melodies of centuries-old compositions, presented in ways their original composers could never have imagined. The arrangements include not only the typical Celtic mix- Irish flute, fiddle, bodhrán -but the addition of such instruments as woodwinds and even sax that lend a contemporary, even jazz-new-age flavor, creating pensive tones, mystical auras and all manner of merriment. Sansone performs masterfully on hammered dulcimer and smallpipes, along with Sara Read on fiddle and Rob Greenway (guitar, Irish flute, button accordion). Most notable, however, is the contribution of Bobby Read [producer] performer on sax, clarinet, bass clarinet, flutes, accordion, woodwinds, keyboards, percussion. He also performs with the Bruce Hornsby Band. Read s innovative arrangements and seamless engineering allow the material to retain its Celtic sensibility, which is only enhanced by the some brilliant innovation. Standout tracks include Breton An Dro, in which delicate string-reedy tones are overtaken by the silky, gentle swing of a sax. In this richly textured presentation, the artists demonstrate just how much can be accomplished within a simple, repetitive melody. There are two jig sets, the typical toe-tapper Breton Jig/Castlebar/Train to Dublin (Sansone s original) and the more moody Comb Your Hair & Curl It/The Butterfly/Barney Brallaghan. The lovely Variations on an Irish Air (Pretty Girl Milking the Cow) has all the emotional impact of the most heart-wrenching traditional song.Throughout, Sansone performs in that hold-your-breath emotive style that has the listener hanging onto every note, awaiting the next bend in the road - and for sure it will be a delight.
READ LINER NOTES AND PRESS RELEASE...
ABOUT THE MUSIC
In choosing this music, I was inspired by all of my musical experiences—from performing on large concert stages to joining in on Irish sessions at neighborhood pubs; playing a wedding processional march, and jigs for a children’s maypole; offering an elegant pavane to King Henry VIII at a Renaissance festival and accompanying a set of reels for Irish step dancers at a Celtic fair. Come join us now for a festive gathering at the Celtic fair! Maggie Sansone.
Notes on the music
1. Scottish Bransle (pronounced "brawl") A lively dance from the Renaissance published in
Orchesographie(1589) by dance master Thoinot Arbeau (1520-1595).
2. Celtic Jigs. Picture a musical journey starting on the rocky Brittany coast with the Breton Jig, traveling across the sea to Ireland with a stop at Castlebar, in the western part of Ireland, where you hop on a Train to Dublin, a 150-mile ride that will complete our journey! Thanks to Rob Greenway for teaching me Castlebar, the inspiration for my own composition, Train to Dublin.
3. Breton An Dro. An Dro (Breton: "the turn") is an open circle dance in 2/4 with dancers linking their pinky fingers. Brittany, one of the six Celtic nations is located on the northwest coast of France and still retains its Celtic culture and language to this day. Imagine a gathering of musicians in colorful garb, instruments in hand, heading for merriment and revelry at the castle fair.
4. Circle Dance. A traditional Breton tune that is based on ancient modal scales.
5. Dancing Reels The Watchmaker/Highland Reel/Silver Spear. These are well-traveled tunes heard in Northumberland, Ireland, Scotland and America.
6. The Butterfly Slip Jig Set includes Comb Your Hair and Curl It; The Butterfly, an Irish step dancing favorite that lends itself to jazzy rhythms; and Barney Brallaghan.
7. Variations on Pretty Girl Milking a Cow. Solo hammered dulcimer. This begins with the melancholy refrain of the traditional Irish air and evolves into an upbeat mood.
8. Highland Boat Song. A beautiful air from Scotland also known as The Arran Boat Song.
9. Round de Loudeac/ The Wren. A set of traditional Breton tunes.
10. Irish Reels. This set starts with Donegal Highland, played as a slow air that picks up tempo into two Irish session tunes, Mother and Child and Woman of the House.
11. Maiden Lane. An English country dance tune that has become the "hit tune" at the Maryland Renaissance Festival where my merry band of musicians and I play it for King Henry and his court. I perform all of the parts including a counter melody from Early Playford for Early Instruments, Book 2 (Marshall Barron, Playford Consort Publications)
12. Four Renaissance Dances (Première Suytte de Branles d’Ecosse). Four 16th century Renaissance dance tunes called branles ( pronounced "brawl") from The Attaingnant Dance Prints (1557) published by Pierre Attaingnant (ca.1529-ca.1557)
Musicians Maggie Sansone: Hammered dulcimer, Scottish smallpipes (Tr. 3, 9); Bobby Read: soprano saxophone, clarinet, bass clarinet, flutes (wooden flute, C flute, alto flute, piccolo), keyboard percussion, and programming; Sara Read: fiddle; Rob Greenway: guitar, Irish flute, button accordion.
Production, musical arrangements, engineering, mixing, mastering: Bobby Read, Small World Audio, Afton, VA,www.bobbyread.com ; Executive Producer, musical conception, hammered dulcimer arrangements by Maggie Sansone; Bodhran drum samples by Paddy League; CD Booklet design: Maggie’s Music; Cover Photo: Carcassonne by Galen Frysinger, www.galenfrysinger.com.; Hammered dulcimer by Nicholas Blanton.
Thanks to Tina Chancey, Paul Oorts, Karen Ashbrook, Ken Kolodner, Paddy League, Richard Crenshaw, Connie McKenna, Betsy Chalfin, Emily and Norman Sokoloff & the staff at Maggie’s Music.
More recordings featuring Maggie Sansone
Mystic Dance, A Traveler’s Dream, Celtic Meditations, Dance Upon the Shore, Mist & Stone Traditions; and Holiday recordings: Sounds of the Season, Sounds of the Season II, Merrily Greet the Time, A Scottish Christmas, Ancient Noels.
For complete liner notes, bookings, tour schedule, information, contact:
Maggie’s Music, PO BOX 490, Shady Side, MD 20764; firstname.lastname@example.org www.maggiesmusic.com; www.maggiesansone.com
Maggie’s Music is excited to announce the national release of A Celtic Fair: Traditional and innovative music for a festive gathering. The music is drawn from Renaissance dance manuscripts; jigs, reels and airs from Ireland, Scotland and Brittany, France; and new compositions in the Celtic tradition. Maggie Sansone is featured on hammered dulcimer in a creative collaboration with album producer Bobby Read who brings a modern sensibility to the recording with his performances on soprano saxophone, clarinet, bass clarinet, flutes, keyboards, percussion and programming. Joining Sansone and Read are Sara Read on Irish fiddle and Rob Greenway on Irish flute, button accordion and guitar.
The Sound The hammered dulcimer is a trapezoidal-shaped with over seventy-five strings struck with wooden mallets. Sansone has enhanced her instrument with extra bridges to extend her range of notes and a damper pedal which adds a marimba-like sound to her palette. “The word ‘Celtic’ to me,” Sansone says, “means more than a specific place or time. It reflects a timeless spirit, a sensibility, even a groove.” That groove builds on this album through Sansone’s artful exploration of the percussive qualities of her hammered dulcimer combined with the bodhran, dombek, djembe, snare drum and other percussion.
The Album Theme In her liner notes, Sansone describes how her recording repertoire was inspired by her varied musical experiences performing on large concert stages, joining an Irish session at a neighborhood pub, playing a stately dance for King Henry VIII at a Renaissance festival and accompanying Irish step dancers at a Celtic fair. Sansone invites the listener to "Come join us now for a festive gathering at the Celtic fair" as portrayed by Carcassonne (pictured on CD cover), the walled medieval town in France which is host to festive gatherings today.
(Tr.1) Scottish Branle is a French Renaissance dance tune from Orchésographie, published in 1589 by Thoinot Arbeau (1519-1595). The branle (pronounced brawl) opens with a Persian-inspired improvisation reminiscent of Sansone's performances on the santur, as heard on her previous recording, Mystic Dance (MM111) and presents variations with accordion, flute, djembe and snare drum.
(Tr.2) Celtic Jigs are jazzy interpretations of what Sansone calls "a traveling set of jigs from Brittany to Ireland." The set ends with Train to Dublin, an original composition by Sansone. The soprano sax, Irish flute, fiddle and hammered dulcimer share the lead and intertwine with intricate harmonies and countermelodies.
(Tr.3) Breton An Dro features the Celtic music of Brittany, France in a traditional Breton dance tune performed in an ancient minor mode with Sansone also performing on the smallpipes, a bellows-blown bagpipe. Sansone invites the listener to "imagine an ancient gathering of musicians in colorful garb, musical instruments in hand, heading for merriment and revelry at the castle fair."
(Tr. 5) Dancing Reels features high enery reels with a driving guitar accompaniment in the traditional Irish style of DADGAD open tuning on the guitar and with fiddle and Irish flute.
About Maggie Sansone The Washington Post has said of Sansone’s recordings, “Steeped in tradition yet often wed to the contemporary, few recordings span the gap of generations so gracefully. Sansone has added unexpected color, rhythmic vitality and a venturesome spirit, and has managed to balance art and accessibility, past and present, with unusual care and deftness." Profiled on the popular CBS-TV show, "Sunday Morning,” Sansone has the distinction of being a working musician and CEO of her own independent record company, Maggie's Music, Inc. The label has a growing roster of
ecording artists and over fifty albums in world-wide distribution, including twelve solo recordings by Sansone.