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Music from Brittany

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Album Review

Maybe you don't think of France as a hotbed of Celtic culture. And for the most part, you're right. But Brittany, a region in the west of France, is actually home to an entire Celtic subculture with its own very ancient language and a musical tradition that comes partly from eastern Europe and partly from the same sources as the Gaelic music of Ireland and Scotland. Kornog is a Breton group that was founded by a bouzouki-playing Scots emigre named Jamie McMenemy; the Breton members of the group play fiddle, guitar, and flute. This album is taken from a concert the group played in Minneapolis in 1983, and it's a marvelous recording. Jean-Michel Veillon plays flute and Christian Lemaitre plays fiddle in a style that would fit perfectly in an Irish pub session, but the tunes they play — with names like "Gwerz Ar Marc'Hadourig Bihan" and "Dans Loudieg" — have a rhythmic intricacy and a modal edge that set them apart from the Gaelic traditions of Celtic music. "Dans an Dro" includes some lovely interplay between McMenemy's bouzouki and Soïg Sibéril's guitar; and "Laride/An Dro" incorporates the bombarde, a reed instrument that plays a central role in Breton music.


Formed: 1981

Genre: World

Years Active: '80s, '90s

The music of Brittany was introduced to much of the world through the playing of Kornog. During the six years that they were initially together (1981 to 1987), the group toured nearly non-stop and released four memorable albums. More than a decade since they went their separate ways, the members of Kornog have reunited. Despite the lengthy sabbatical, the group's mixture of Scottish ballads and original instrumentals sound as exciting as ever. Kornog represented the combined vision of four highly-talented...
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Music from Brittany, Kornog
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