various artists,
Soffi d'ancia: Decannale del Festival "Pifferi, muse e zampogne"
(Radici, 2005)

This is a great anthology from Italy, with 21 tracks featuring various pipes, shawms and other traditional instruments. The collection was inspired by the 10th anniversary of the "Pifferi, muse e Zampogne" festival in Arezzo (Central Italy).

In these 76 minutes of music, there's a great variety of traditional sounds, showing the wealth of traditional and folk-roots music in the peninsula. Twenty artists are featured.

Most compositions are traditional, and include an instrumental version of "God Rest ye Merry Gentlemen" on zampogna (Italian pipe) by Verbanus. But a few are also original: The young uilleann piper from Arrezzo, Massimo Giuntini, demonstrates skill and artistry on "The Monastry."

The Musicanti del Piccolo Borgo, a folk juggernaut from Central Italy, specializing in the music of Lazio and Molise, appears twice. On "Fiore de tutti i fiori" they surprise with a folk countertenor, the longest tune on this CD at just over five minutes and one of the most interesting.

Also surprising are the number of groups in Italy that specialize in Celtic music. Lanterna Magica is a group from the Emilia region of Italy, also specializing in the music of Scotland and Brittany; featuring guitar, accordeon, violin and pipes. Birkin Tree, another Italian group specializing in Celtic music (not Birkin Three as the liner notes have it) present an enjoyable air from their third CD.

Another nice addition to this collection (there are so many) is Fabrizio Poggi and Turututela's tune "Senti la rane che cantano," featuring the harmonica.

Other artists include I Musetta, Barbapedana, Arche, Din Delon, Calicanto, Enerbia and more. All of these 21 tunes are from the artist's CD releases, most on the top Italian folk labels Felmay, Radici and Folk Club Ethnosuoni.

Unfortunately, on such a lengthy and varied disc, explanatory notes are few. For those of us not from Italy, or not familiar with the music, it leaves us to wonder: Who are these musicians? What are these songs about? A bit more information from the record company might be useful, on what is otherwise a fine, worthwhile collection.

review by
David Cox

1 March 2008

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