Secret Garden

White Stones

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On their second album, duo Secret Garden play with the conventions of Celtic and neo-classical music, weaving in unexpected elements like Spanish guitars and Eastern European folk melodies as their muse dictates. Norwegian pianist Rolf Lovland composes striking instrumentals for which Fionnuala Sherry's violin supplies the lead voice. Just about every song here features a lavish orchestral arrangement, but it's Sherry's violin that speaks loudest and touches the heart most tenderly. Her fluid, emotive technique shines on tracks like "Appassionata," and is made all the more admirable knowing that she was recovering from serious injuries and in great physical pain during the recording sessions.

The overall mood is weighty, heart-centered, providing a supportive background for personal reflection. The beautiful melancholia lifts a bit in tracks like the polyrhythmic intoxication of "Windancer" and "Escape," which evokes Gypsy caravans and circus performers run amok.

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