Master of the hammered dulcimer and mistress of the Maggie's Music label, Maggie Sansone proves on Celtic Explorations, her sixth solo album, that this head of a largely traditional Celtic label is one of the roster's most expansive artists. Sansone reaches out both geographically and musically. The music of Ireland, Scotland, Sweden, Northumberland (England), and Cape Breton (Canada) is encountered in this Gaelic travelogue. Sweden is represented in a largely unrecognized trove of Celtic sounds choosen to introduce the listener to "Bjorndansen (Bear Dance)." Surprisingly, this is a very light and airy piece played on dulcimer, acoustic guitar, clarinet, and supporting instruments. Apparently, they have very delicate, nimble bears in Scandinavia. Canada's Cape Breton is a region known for its fiddle virtuosos. Award-winning fiddler Bonnie Rideout steps in to showcase the set of "Gaelic Reels" that are also arranged for hammered dulcimer, soprano saxophone, accordion, bamboo flute, clarinet, acoustic guitar, and Celtic and East Indian percussion. Sansone contributes a pair of original tunes. One of which, "Samhain Set: All Hallow's Eve/The Seeker" is a magical and mysterious piece where a mournful harmony from bass clarinet supports the sylvan bamboo flute and the sorcerous E-bow, a hand-held electronic device that produces a bowed string effect. Each track is patiently and beautifully developed incorporating skill and tradition in an immensely memorable treatment of these ancient styles.
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AllMusic Review by Tom Schulte