Various Artists

Sicily: The Hellenic Musical Tradition in South Italy

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This double-album set could serve as a textbook example of how to produce a first-class recording of ethnic music. It is beautifully printed and recorded, featuring some truly amazing performances. Fans of bagpipe music most certainly will want this. In addition every sort of printed information a listener could want is included in the handsome enclosed booklet. There are stunning black and white photographs as well as complete details on the history of the music, the individual performers and the lyrics of the songs. And all of it is printed in both English and Greek. Best of all might be the trip to Greece that might be required to get one's hands on this item, but that is a subject for a travel guide, not a music guide. Besides the very special bagpipes featured, performance include vocal solos and village choral efforts, various ensembles usually featuring accordions and tambourines, and the charming instrument called pouti-pou or coupa coupa, which looks like an old-fashioned butter churner. It is a terracotta or tin pot with a cloth stretched tightly across it; a large reed is inserted in the center of the cloth and is rubbed with the musicians' wet palm. In the liner notes the resulting sound is described as "peculiar," and that is an understatement. The overall theme of the collection are the various musical traditions that spread from Greece into Sicily and Italy, and it comes as not much of a surprise that Greek gods and goddesses are not the only concepts that made their way northward to the boot-shaped country and the island it has always been kicking. Unlike many releases of this sort that treat the performers as if they were anonymous characters in a police lineup, the liner notes also identify all of the performers by name, and even gives their ages at the time of recording. This turns out to be more than just a trivial detail, as different singing styles are demonstrated by having people of different ages perform the same song. Fascinating.

Track Listing

Title/Composer Performer Time
1 2:05
2 2:05
3 1:25
4 3:10
5 2:45
6 2:00
7 4:25
8 3:00
9 5:15
10 1:50
11 1:45
12 1:30
13 0:25
14 2:00
15 2:35
16 3:00
17 4:04
18 2:45
19 1:37
20 1:35
21 1:15
22 2:30
23 1:55
24 2:20
25 1:32
26 1:15
27 1:05
28 3:00
29 3:22
30 2:07
31 2:40
32 1:50
33 1:37
34 3:15
35 3:25
36 3:30
blue highlight denotes track pick