Crossroads of the Celts

Crossroads of the Celts
Dorian 93177


  1. Oxford Bodleian Library Laud 610 (15th c.): May Song (2 voices, harp, crwth, cruit, frame drum)
  2. The "Vienna Prose Tristan" (14th c.): A vous amours ains c'a nului (voice, vielle, harp, gittern)
  3. Trinity College, Dublin MS 80 (early 15th c.): Cristo canamus gloriam (2 voices, crwth)
  4. Arr. Altramar: Stanpipe Smarmore (vielle, harp, gittern, frame drum)
  5. Irish Liber Hymnorum (11th c.): Brigit bé bithmaith (voice)
  6. Inchcolm Antiphoner (13th c.): O Columba insignis signifer (2 voices, vielle)
  7. Arr. Altramar: Amra (vielle)
  8. Irish Liber Hymnorum (11th c.): Ecce fulget (voice, cruit)
  9. Text, Duanaire Fionn (16th c.): The Lay of the Forge (speaking voice, cruit, vielle, harp, percussion)
  10. Irish Liber Hymnorum (11th c.): Winter (voice, crwth)
  11. Trinity College, Dublin MS 80 (early 15th c.): Adest dies leticie (voice, crwth)
  12. The "Black Book of Carmarthen" (12th c.): Ysgolan (voice, crwth, gittern, frame drum)

Performers: Jann Cosart (crwth, vielle), Angela Mariani (voice, harp, cruit), Chris Smith (cruit, gittern, speaking voice), David Stattelman (voice, percussion)

Playing time: 74'

Recording date: June 1998 (Indiana)

Celtic music continues to be not only a traditional-folk repertory of considerable popular appeal, but a topic of high interest as it relates to what we might more commonly call "early music." The significant distinction is that this is primarily an oral repertory, whereas early music per se has concerned itself with written sources and the correspondingly different social setting from which these would be engendered. It is fairly widely believed that Celtic music underwent a rather substantial change at the beginning of the modern era, as no part of Europe was remote any longer. The present program is one attempt to reconstruct the earlier generation of style, based on the earliest available sources. It therefore represents one in a continuing series of attempts to apply some of the techniques learned in the Early Music Movement to more popularly-oriented musics of the area.

In some sense, however, this is misleading, which is one reason that Celtic music continues to draw so much interest. Especially in the earlier medieval period, prior to the advent of polyphony in France and during its early development, Irish poetry was one of the most acclaimed and developed artforms in Europe. It is out of this culture that much of this music emerged, with the significant distinction remaining that there was never a real "troubadour movement" to write down tunes. What ends up happening is that interpretations here are based on copies of copies and in turn on some text structures which did survive from the period, all placed against the context of a culture which was increasingly marginalized over time.

A couple of related programs:

Celtic Roots
Scottish & Irish music from the earliest traditional sources
Maggie's Music 220
Insula Feminarum
Résonances médiévales de la Féminité Celte
La Reverdie
Arcana 59

The next recordings by Altramar:

Celtic Wanderers
The Pilgrim's Road
Dorian 93213
From Galway to Galicia
The Celtic Shores
Dorian 93248

A recording devoted to the related Welsh harp repertory, including from the Ap Huw manuscript (1613):

Two Worlds of the Welsh Harp
William Taylor
Dorian 90260

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Todd M. McComb