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Where Dragons Dance

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Album Review

Like just about any other type of world music, Celtic music can be either traditional or modern. Contemporary neo-Celtic artists can play either original or traditional songs, but if they do play a traditional Celtic standard, they aren't inclined to play it in a traditional way — they might embrace something that the famous Irish harpist Turlough O'Carolan wrote in the 17th or 18th centuries, but they'll incorporate 20th or 21st century influences. Since 1979, Magical Strings has epitomized that neo-Celtic sense of adventure. The Bouldings are far from Celtic purists, and their desire to keep instrumental Celtic music forging ahead continues to serve them well on 2003's Where Dragons Dance. This CD doesn't pretend to be an exact replica of instrumental Celtic music as it was played in Dublin or Glasgow 300 years ago; on Where Dragons Dance, Celtic music is something to be combined with European classical, American folk, new age, and a variety of non-Celtic world music. Celtic music is the foundation, but there are plenty of non-Celtic influences as well — and true to form, the Bouldings offer a healthy combination of original and non-original material. Where Dragons Dance has its share of time-honored Celtic standards, one of which is Thomas Connellan's "Molly St. George." The piece goes back to the 17th century Ireland; as the Bouldings point out in the liner notes, harpist Connellan was born in 1640 and was a generation older than O'Carolan (who was born 30 years later in 1670). Not surprisingly, Magical Strings' version of "Molly St. George" reflects their modern outlook; so does their charming arrangement of the traditional Russian song "Cossack Lullaby." Of course, the word charming is equally descriptive of everything else on this CD, which is a solid addition to Magical Strings' catalog.


Formed: 1978

Genre: World

Years Active: '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s

Classical, folk, jazz and Celtic music are blended into the atmospheric sounds of Seattle-based duo, Magical Strings. Although their arrangements center around Celtic harp and hammered dulcimer, Magical Strings makes their music come alive with the addition of a world-wide sampling of other instruments. Magical Strings represents the joint efforts of husband and wife, Philip and Pam Boulding. Since meeting when Pam was a student in a hammered dulcimer taught by Phillip in 1978, the Bouldings have...
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