Nos Sadwrn Bach
(Not Yet Saturday)
Crasdant is an impressive folk group, one of the best of the new generation of Welsh folk musicians. But in a sense, it's a case of old wine in new bottles because many of these musicians have been performing around Wales for years.
The four members of Crasdant have all achieved some degree of renown in Wales in past years. They are former Ar Log fiddler Stephen Rees, triple harpist Robin Huw Bowen, Andy McLaughlin on pipgorn (a Welsh hornpipe), flutes and whistles, and Huw Williams, guitar and stepdance. In turn, the commitment of these musicians to the folk traditions of Wales is remarkable.
On this new album, Nos Sadwrn Bach (which translates as "Not Yet Saturday" or, literally, "Little Saturday Night"), the four-man group performs a full set of airs, jigs and other dance tunes, mostly of traditional Welsh origin. The playing is precise and the quality overall is good on this all-instrumental album. Bowen, in particular, sparkles as an instrumentalist.
Highlighting the CD are several graceful airs, including "Y Fwyalchen (The Blackbird)" and "Blodau'r Flwyddyn (Flowers of the Seasons)" featuring Rees on whistles. "Nos Galan," a Welsh tune better known in the English-speaking world as "Deck the Halls," is performed here with real energy.
While the arrangements and the playing on Nos Sadwrn Bach are flawless and precise, and the research and commitment to the tradition is admirable, I do find it hard to make an emotional connection with this recording. Bluntly put, the CD does not have that infectious quality of good folk music.
Crasdant has ensured that these tunes will not be forgotten. They await, however, the interpreter that will give them new life.