Un Eostad (A Harvest)
Goasco Music 1001/1
1. Ar Skrilhed (Paul Huellou - trad.) 2. Nevez Amzer (Paul Huellou - trad.) 3. Lokarn (Paul Huellou-Pol Huellou) 4. 0 Pa Oan Paotr Yaouank (Filomena Cadoret - trad.) 5. Foar Vre (Alice Lavanant - Pol Huellou) 6. Mesaerez Ar Menez (Filomena Cadoret - trad.) 7. Ar Gwezenn Avalou (trad. - trad.) 8. Ar Veh'nerez (Filomena Cadoret - trad.) 9. Kaeran Rozenn (Alice Lavanant - Pol Huellou) 10. Ar Bloavezh Mat (Paul Huellou - trad.)Well, this is an interesting CD and no mistake - a Breton singer, now aged 85, recorded back in 19781, when he was aged 53, in Dublin, accompanied by his son on flute, two other Breton musicians on fiddle and piano - and Paddy Keenan on Uilleann pipes and Brendan Fahy on guitar! So we're talking difficult stuff here!
When considering the traditional music of almost any country other than England, we must remember that different rules apply. We should not be surprised, for example, to find that Paul Huellou has written four of the songs, or that five others were written by named (though now dead) singers and poets. Nor should we assume that 'written by' applies to both the words and music of the songs - the tunes of most of them are traditional. Three of the texts have tunes composed by Paul's son, Pol Huellou. Once again, this doesn't prevent them being traditional ... in form and concept. On the other hand, the fact that the CD was recorded in Dublin and includes the playing of two Irish musicians may, I feel, cause some doubt as to its 'traditional' authenticity. In circumstances like these, one needs to make an informed judgement about the validity of the whole project. What qualifications do I have for making such a decision? Well, about 50 years of listening to traditional music from across the world. And I think that it sounds 'right' ... for the most part.
To begin with, there's the huge advantage of Paul Huellou being a very good singer indeed! Here he is with Ar Gwezenn Avalou, the only song with both traditional words and tune on the CD. And all the other musicians seem to be very good as well - but Paddy Keenan and Brendan Fahy are not Bretons and, good as they are, there are some micro-timing issues on some of the tracks, particularly those featuring the 'sung dance music' at which the Bretons are so good. An observation of my own is that 'strict tempo' playing (or singing) almost never found amongst traditional musicians - I believe it's for dancers who can't be bothered to listen to the music ... or musicians who can't be bothered to watch the dancers. And since the tradition is a good example of 'art-as-process', this lack of attention is rarely found there. So, in traditional dance music, there will be a degree of variation in the pulse and tempo - which never bothers a good dancer, in my experience. The problem here (and it's only a very slight one) is that the variations in the pulse and tempo which Paul Huellou uses are not always quite the same as those which the Irishmen use. Here's a bit of Ar Skrilhed, in which I think you'll be able to hear what I mean. So, it's only a minor criticism, but it does exemplify the problems inherent in 'crossover' or 'fusion' experiments - and explains my antipathy towards their results. This CD hardly qualifies as an example of either category, and I must emphasize that, in general, the whole project is a great success.
A long-time piper as well as singer and storyteller, Paul Huellou took part in some of the earliest broadcasts in the Breton language on Radio Quimerc'h in 1946. He has also recorded for Per Trepos and Per Jakez Helias, two of the most important collectors, in 1948/49. As has been mentioned above, four of the lyrics were written by Paul and deal in general with his interest in, and love of, nature. There are also two songs by Alice Lavanant (1911-2001), a poet from the Tregor area, also dealing with the nature of the Breton countryside. Three further songs were written by Filomena Cadoret, a seamstress and poet who was known as Koulmig Arvor (the little dove of Brittany). She was born at the end of the 19th century in Bonen near Rostrenen, and this is the first time that her work has been recorded, so it is fitting that the singing is by a native of her own district of Brittany.
I enjoy this CD very much, and I'm sure you will too. It seems to be quite widely available.
Rod Stradling - 9.11.10
There was a cassette version released at the time.