- Danzas Macabras
- Yann Derrien
- A Noite Pecha
- El Otro Finisterre
- Karante Doh Doue
- Saint Patrick’s Polka
- Ar Vag (O Barco)
- The Three Pipers
- As Covas do Rei Cintolo
- Ponthus et Sidoine
- Un Galicien Libre a Paris
FINISTERRE: THE END OF THE EARTH
1.- DANSES MACABRES
I invite you to join me in this adventure from Galicia to Brittany in, the two Celtic lands ends in North-Western Spain and North-Western
France. Their musical landscapes have made me dream of a trip in which the flute talks to the Breton biniou koz, the bombard, treujenn gaol,
bagpipes, or the rhythm of their tribal and ethnic dances, that lead us to trance with their obsessive repetition. This strength, this energy
makes me think of the legendary Breton Danses Macabres.
In the 4th century, a Breton prince called Mailoc arrived to the northern coast of Galicia and funded the village of Bretoña, a sort of
paradise so similar to their homeland for Bretons who had to escape from invasions. Bretons established their own Celtic church spreading
monasteries through the coast and kept living for centuries in that particular system that was in fact so close to that of the Galicians.
That area still has a Breton flavour that has inspired the many Galician writers and poets born in that special region.
3.- YANN DERRIEN
Travelling by boat from Brittany to Galicia, in the middle of a big storm, I listened to some chords that my brother Xurxo was playing in the guitar and composed this tune based on an old Breton story. It is the pilgrimage to Santiago of Galicia of Yann Derrien.
The song is sung by Eimear Quinn, an Irish singer with a fairy voice. I met her playing at the celebration of the Millenium in Dublin New Year’s Eve 1999.
4.- A NOITE PECHA
Alan Stivell is a living legend in Celtic music. When I was exploring Breton music searching new ways for the album I always had the feeling that he had been there before.
He came to spend a few days with us in Galicia and we even visited old Celtic hill-forts, dolmens and so on. We recorded in my home in Vigo and after we went to finish in his in Brittany.
Alan’s special harps sound reminds me of Ry Cooder’s dark and valiant guitars in my first album.
Alan sings in Breton and for the first time in Galician and he also recorded our music for the first time, a sort of a jig that closed this medley.
5.- THE OTHER LAND’S END
Every Celtic country has its own land’s end, but in Brittany and Galicia they are even called the same, Finisterre. The great Irish poet Seamus Heaney told me once that this word became a favorite of his as a child when he heard it over and over again on the radio, in the shipping forecast.
This gorgeous tune was composed especially for this album by my friend Breton guitarist Dan Ar Braz.
Dan had invited me to join in that adventure called “Héritage des Celtes” which created a huge Celtic music boom in France in the 90s.
Later he would come to visit Galicia with me and this tracks is inspired by that experience.
We recorded it with two impressive Breton pipe bands Bagad de Local Mendon and Bagad d’Auray. An incredibly powerful sound that creates strong emotions, I describe them often like a “Celtic big band”.
6.- KARANTE DOH DOUE
This amazing traditional Breton song comes from the repertoire of Brittany’s only male choir, the Kanerion Pleuigner.
Each member is a real godfather of Breton music with an amazing sense of their own tradition. They make me think of choirs such as Aires da Terra, the first one in Galicia in the 19th century, or the one funded by Seán Ó Ríada in Cuil Aodha, that is still maintained by his son Peadar. I visited him in his father’s home in the West of Ireland with my friend Liam O’Flynn, the great Irish piper and he told me many interesting things about his father and music in general.
7.- ST. PATRICK’S POLKA
One of the happiest days for me every year is St. Patrick’s Day. Since my dear masters The Chieftains invited me to play every year at the Carnegie Hall in New York, I have never stopped playing that day… and lately, thanks to the Bretons that big party has been established strongly in Paris, where we have layed for 100 000 people in the Stade de France.
Playing this Breton polka makes me happy, I hope it will make you happy too to listen to it!
8.- AN HINI A GARAN / The one I love
My friend Gilles Servat is a Breton druid (really!) and also his country’s most powerful voice and biggest heart. When he came to Galicia to show us his solidarity in a charity concert because of the dreadful oil slick that destroyed our coast, Breton language was not a barrier for anyone in the audience to fully appreciate the immense beauty of this old song about love gone by sea. He is accompanied here by a young Breton singer with a great voice, Bleunwenn.
9.- THE THREE PIPERS
This is one of my old dreams come true: the union, for the first time, of the world’s most renowned bagpipes: Irish, Scottish and Galician.
Each one has its personality, its accent it peculiar tuning. They seemed irreconcilable, but we succeeded! It has not been easy.
I had the pleasure to invite to join me in this historical recording in the Breton Basilica of Hennebont my friends master pipers Liam O’Flynn from Ireland and Breton piper Patrick Molard.
Highland pipes, Uilleann Pipes, Gaita… One day I defined them as fire, water and earth. Guess which is which.
10.- THE CAVERN AN DRO
I have played this an dro all over the world. It is the most popular Breton dance and I have seen audiences dancing to it in Japan, Australia, Italy, US…
Somehow I feel this mysterious tune can be danced in any place and in any time… even in a cave inhabited in prehistoric times: I recorded the stalactites sounds inside Galicia’s biggest cave that is said to be home to king Arthur and his troops disguised as crows. I had to walk inside it for ours with some speleologists friends but when we arrived to what they called the Organ Hall and my brother started playing rhythms on the impressive stalactites I couldn’t help remembering this tune that kept everyone down there dancing!
11.- PONTHUS ET SIDOINE
It was a beautiful story that of the medieval Roman de Ponthus, King of Galicia and Sidoine, daughter of the king of Brittany. They loved each other in Broceliande Forest in Brittany in which there is still a huge beech tree called after them.
There are many Breton tunes like this old love song that remind me of ancient music. Maybe because of that I always imagined it played by maestro Jordi Savall on his viola da gamba. I have known this exceptional Catalonian musician for years, but it is the first time that we play together. We recorded this at midnight in summer in the millenary monastery of St Pere de Casseres, deep in the Catalonian forest. Jordi evoked that night a friend philosopher who was convinced that in such places, in which there had been so much music through the centuries, the stones gave back part of it. Listening to this magical music I think he was right.
12.- UN GALICIEN LIBRE À PARIS
It was my father who introduced me to Celtic music. He lived in Paris exiled at the end of the 60s. It was here he met Alan Stivell in a solidarity concert with Spain. Dan Ar Braz played in Alan’s band at the time. Dan composed this tune for my father and we first performed it in the Celtic Festival in Lorient, Brittany. My father was in the hall and Dan invited him to join us onstage, you can imagine the emotion of my brother Xurxo and me!