Ffynnon,
Celtic Music from Wales
(Green Linnet, 2002)

We are so used to associating Celtic music with Ireland and Scotland -- and even France and Canada -- that we often forget that beautiful principality of Wales as another part of the tradition. Personally, I find the Welsh language and accent musical even in the spoken word. Add music and you get some of the most melodic tunes and songs possible.

Ffynnon is a trio fronted by Lynne Denmann that performs songs rooted in the myths of that lovely land. This CD includes dialect songs, nursery rhymes and dance tunes. They range to Scotland and Brittany for other tracks. We are informed that the group name is pronounced "fun on." Many of the track titles could do with pronunciation notes, too, but once we get over our language prejudice we are immersed in a world of ethereal beauty and mystery.

The CD opens with a song collected in 1844 called "Y Gwydd," reflecting on life and death. All songs are sung in the native language and unless you are a speaker you must rely on the hypnotising performance while reading the English translation to get the essence of the tune.

There is an amazing track called "Brothen I'r Buart," which is actually a very old cattle-calling song. I listened at first sceptically but was immediately entranced.

"Felton Lonnin," or "Felton Lane," is a dialect song that bears listening. It is in English so the lyrics are not printed. Denmann is at her best on this track with a clear diction that allows us understand even the dialect words. "The Goshawk" a Scottish song also gets a fabulous rendition here.

"Cwcw Fach," or "Little Cuckoo," has the singer enticing the bird to nest in the bushes of Dolgellau. Do they not realise the cuckoo does not nest? They turn to France for the Breton dance song "Le Petit Cordonier."

Sadly, because the Welsh language may not be well known internationally, this CD may sell less than it deserves. As a non-Welsh speaker, I can assure anyone interested that you do not need to know the language to enjoy the album. Think of it as "mouth music" -- the melodies and excellent renditions make it a lovely CD regardless of whether you understand the words.

- Rambles
written by Nicky Rossiter
published 8 February 2003



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