Review Archive

‘A Winter Solstice Celebration’ by Hanz Araki and Kathryn Claire

(November 22, 2012)

The timing is perfect. Forget the rampant commercialism. Concentrate on the tradition. And if Celtic winter traditions are your delight then ‘A Winter Solstice Celebration’ by Hanz Araki and Kathryn CC_Solstice_PromoClaire (collectively part of The Celtic Conspiracy) should make it on to thousands of Christmas lists.

Released for the first time in the UK, this album is integrated within a quartet of CDs under the Celtic Conspiracy banner - but back to ‘A Winter Solstice Celebration’ - these are tunes and songs designed to grace the longest night of the year. From the depths of tradition half-whispered within ancient carols, through the long-established discourse of time-honoured narratives, to scintillating tunes that hold the promise of light returning after the winter nights – this is a winter solstice celebration to savour.

The rich tones of Finn MacGinty open and close the album with two short spoken exhortations – one from Oliver Hexford to open, ‘I Heard A Bird Sing’ and to close ‘Ring Out Wild Bells’ by Alfred, Lord Tennyson. The old carolling tradition is well-represented by such stalwarts as the devotional ‘The Seven Joys of Mary’ the 12th century Irish nativity carol ‘The Wexford Carol’ and the 16th century mystery play carol ‘The Coventry Carol’. To dance your way through the solstice night there are classic tunes from ‘In Dulci Jubilo/Drops of Brandy/Three Sea Captains’ to ‘Apples in Winter/The Frost is All Over’. Seeking their music and songs from England, Ireland and Scotland, Hanz and Kathryn, accompanied by an acclaimed group of musicians, have delivered a perfect seasonal package.

Performing on the album are Hanz Araki (flute, whistles, vocals) Kathryn Claire (violin, guitar, vocals) joined by Cary Novotny (guitar) Joe Trump (percussion) Suzanne Taylor (piano) and Finn MacGinty (spoken word).

Reviewer: Dan Holland

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