Susana Seivane,
Alma de Buxo
(Green Linnet, 2002)

Alma de Buxo means "Soul of the Boxwood" in English, a reference to the tree that traditionally provides the wood for Galician bagpipes. Susana Seivane's chanters have been cut and turned with full accordance to tradition, as you would expect for the freshest growth from the venerable luthier family tree of Seivane (pronounced say-VAHN-ay). Her grandfather made her first bagpipes for her when she was 4, a year after her father began her musical training. Now aged 25, Susana brings what is already a lifetime of experience to her second album.

The CD cover is entrancing, depicting the artist as a dryad, and the CD contents are equally refreshing: 13 tracks, mixing traditional dance tunes and new compositions, played with confidence and vitality. The listings provide brief explanations in English and Catalan of each tune's origins. We learn that a jota and a mui–eira are forms of dance and tune particular to Spain and to Galicia, respectively. There are polkas, rumbas, jotas, waltzes and mui–eiras enough to keep your toes tapping, and ballads to give you a moment's respite!

She also sings on two of the tracks, a clear and pleasant solo on "Roseiras de Abril" and joined by five others on "Mui–eira de AlŹn," proving she is more than solely adept as a musician. Already an established piper at many festivals in Europe, Alma de Buxo brings Susana's talent to a wider audience. In her playing, the sometimes frenetic sound of the pipes can make you visualise the wild Galician coast; the quieter, more plaintive notes similarly are indicative of the isolation and seclusion inland.

Accompanied by accordion, harp, trikitixa, bouzouki, drums, violin, bass, guitar, citar, banjo and piano, Susana raises a joyful noise to the heavens, in tribute to and praise of the "Soul of the Boxwood" without which she would be rendered almost mute. She also dedicates tunes to "all those female bagpipers who were made anonymous throughout history" and "to all the women who did so much for our culture and oral transmission in our country." She pays tribute to her grandfather by playing a composition of his, and thanks him for teaching her and for all his good advice.

All these tunes would appear very close to her heart and her traditions, and she certainly throws her soul into playing them. For aficionados of the Galician pipes, this is a vibrant celebration; for those as yet uninitiated, this provides a vivid sample of the genuine article -- Ávamos a bailar!

- Rambles
written by Jenny Ivor
published 8 February 2003

[ visit the artist's website ]