Monday, December 30, 2019

Best of Folk Music from Latvia

I have the good fortune to be hearing this anthology of the Best of Folk Music from Latvia (ARC Music EUCD2882). And so I report in on it today. I cannot say I have heard a great of traditional fare from this country--which regained its independence from Russia in 1991. The 18-song collection gives us a good cross-section of strongly melodic material  High quality audio coming out of the modern recording studio situation remains a constant throughout.

Arrangements vary from traditional-village to contemporary rock-tinged, from traditional instruments to mainstream Western. The songs are often modal minor and are apparently often based on Dainas two-stanza form, marking birth, marriage or death and/or designed to be sung on cyclic yearly calendar milestones such as Christmas, Easter, Summer Solstice, etc. There are more than 300,000 Dainas-associated melodies that have been identified and some 1.2 million texts according to the liners of this album. That is quite a cache!

The vocalists and instrumentalists are first-rate and the music vibrant and winning, memorable and down-to-earth. If I am a novice and have little-to-no experience with the music of this region I can say that the program on this album is a winning one to my ears.

Happily recommended.

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