Search - Jacques Arcadelt, Jean-Baptiste Besard, William Billings :: New Britain: The Roots of American Folksong

New Britain: The Roots of American Folksong
Jacques Arcadelt, Jean-Baptiste Besard, William Billings
New Britain: The Roots of American Folksong
Genres: Dance & Electronic, Folk, Special Interest, Pop, Classical
 
  •  Track Listings (23) - Disc #1

Exploring the connections between early music and what we know as folksong, Joel Cohen and his very adventurous and competent band of musicians not only show us where many familiar tunes come from, they also give us fres...  more »

      
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Exploring the connections between early music and what we know as folksong, Joel Cohen and his very adventurous and competent band of musicians not only show us where many familiar tunes come from, they also give us fresh and illuminating renditions of songs from the 10th century to the middle of the 20th century. Besides the recording's obvious educational value, its primary purpose, according to Cohen, is "to give pleasure." That it does, often in amusing ways, as when a song with religious origins is transformed into a ribald descendant. It's also fun to see how widespread some songs are, with different versions common to many countries. Cohen demonstrates how songs that came from Renaissance forms were preserved by common folk long after the "elite" classes abandoned them. The songs are enhanced by excellent instrumental playing and well-conceived arrangements. --David Vernier

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CD Reviews

Charming, simple & striking. Full of delightful surprises!
Brianna Neal | USA | 11/29/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Many early music groups these days explain cross-cultural musical influences in their program notes, and proceed to play their selections accordingly. Joel Cohen and the Boston Camerata take it the logical step further by actually performing the "root" pieces side by side with the later music that reflects their particular influence. The result is inspired, thought-provoking groupings of related tunes and texts that span not only centuries but continents. The Boston Camerata is primarily a vocal ensemble, with a sound that is spare, pure and direct. Some of their renditions are performed a cappella, while others are accompanied by light, period instrumentation. If you've ever heard this group live in concert, you may recall the surreal effect of sitting in a theater that is pin-drop quiet, waiting for one or two musicians at a time to step forward and break the silence with a clarity and presence that holds the entire audience spellbound from first note to last. The effect of listening to this recording is much the same. My favorites on this release are the groupings of different versions of the same ballad--"Three Ravens", "Gypsy Davy", and "Barbara Allen", for example. The pairing of the Appalacian song "Betty Anne" with its exact harmonic match--a 16th century ricercada for viols by Diego Ortiz--is also quite striking, and I also enjoyed the "shape-note" and "Fa-sol-la" singing-school selections representative of early American music. In the insert, director Joel Cohen explains: "This unorthodox recording, an intentionally provocative mix of early art song and modern folksong, is meant first of all to give pleasure - but it is also a meditation on history, on archetypes, and on the transmission of human culture." The Boston Camerata succeeds admirably here on both counts!"
Tour de Force of American Musical Roots!
rrr338 | 01/04/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Prepare to go on an amazing, haunting musical tour when you put this disc on your player. Joel Cohen (bless him) has once again assembled a group of musicians and singers who are up to the task of taking themselves, and you the listener, back through the mists of musical time. This disc contains songs that span hundreds of years, many of which actually originate in other lands. Yet, these songs would find their way into the early diverse fabric of colonial America, and go on to inspire much of emerging folk music in this country. Some of these songs are secular, but others have a distinctly religious flavor (as in the first piece on Judgment Day and the "stars falling"). Others are merry, dance-like tunes, and remind one of what might have been performed in medieval courts in Europe. Some are sung in english, others in different languages. The range of musical style and vocal interpretation is incredible. This wonderful diversity reminds the listener that America always had diverse roots, and even in colonial times, we were a nation that drew its strength and inspiration from many cultural sources. I like to listen to this disc during the bleak nights of winter, but it is wonderful music for any occasion. If you really are intrigued by the historical development of American music -- or any music -- then this disc is a "must" for your collection. Also recommended: "The World Turned Upside Down" (Barry Philips), "A Land of Pure Delight" (His Majestie's Clerkes), and "Simple Gifts: Shaker Cbants and Spirituals" (Joel Cohen and Boston Camerata)."
Astonishing
Don Carter | United States | 03/24/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)

"The album is astonishing. It is rare to find a continuous line of musical thought from the turn of the previous millenium to its end. This album demonstrates the evolution of music over about a thousand year period and includes some very early versions of what we would call modern songs.It is worth the price of the CD several times over and is one of my favorites in my CD collection."