Tapestry II: In a Garden Green
(Castlebay Music, 2000)

Welcome to the garden, where all is peaceful and serene. There's a breeze whispering through the flowers and a ripple in the babbling brook. The wandering pathways lead you past the sights and smells of springtime, complete with blooming roses. This is the way spring should feel.

Castlebay, a duo from maritime Maine, brings a real sense of joy to the music they play. It is delightful to hear this duo in any setting, whether live or recorded. The gentle pluck of Julia Lane's harp strings delightfully accompanies Fred Gosbee's many instruments, including whistle and fiddle. The instrumental balance is always superb, and the two clearly think as one, to create such smooth and flowing music.

In a Garden Green is a delightful collection of tunes, beautifully capturing the essence of nature, as kept by mankind. The snapshot of the garden begins at the end of winter, celebrating that "Gloomy Winter's Now Awa'." Gosbee's fiddle has an almost psaltery-like quality to it on this slightly mournful tune, backed by a halting and haunting harp accompaniment.

"Smiling Spring" is performed as a lilting harp solo, full of crisp ornamentation that gives the feeling of a dancing brook. One can hear "The Heather Breeze" sighing, coupled with a dance of "The Butterfly," a delightful Irish slip-jig played with a skip in the whistle's voice.

Other tunes include "The Southwind," "A Rosebud by My Early Walk," "Spring o' Shillelagh," "Corn Rigs," "Country Garden" and "Harvest Home." There's a delightful set of 16th-century Italian lute tunes, "An Italian Bouquet," lending a bit of antiquity to the recording. The title track, "All in a Garden Green," is also elegantly historical, suggesting English garden parties of the upper class. This one is particularly effective, featuring a guest flutist, Patricia Boyle-Wright, playing in a duet with Gosbee's whistle while Lane provides a contemplative accompaniment. Guest cellist Doreen Conboy takes over the melody most effectively on the second verse and provides a delightful counterpoint throughout.

One of the highlights of the recording is Julia Lane's original composition, "Migration," written in honor of the Monarch butterflies she observed one autumn. The music rises and falls in patterns much like the movement of butterflies.

The sounds of nature surface above the music from time to time, reminding you of the garden setting. Coupled with a lack of overbearing reverberation (heard on many harp recordings), this gives the recording a fresh, live sound. It is much like attending a concert in a park or garden setting.

Turn to this recording when you need a refreshing turn through delightfully kept gardens on a rainy day. You will come away content.

[ by Jo Morrison ]

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