Various Artists

Kantuketan: Basque Country

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This double set (with a gorgeous, stained glass-like cover) highlights an unusual facet of Basque music. World music fans might well be familiar with the accordion work from the region, but this highlights vocals, in all their forms and styles. There are choirs and small groups, a cappella singing and ensembles. The art of singing here has a uniquely Basque flavor, whether in the more modern song form or in what are known as "wild songs" -- improvisations without words. This shows how strongly one of Europe's oldest languages has survived -- the participants aren't all old, by any means. There are some fascinating lengthy pieces, such as "Ahaide Delizius Huntan" from Beñat Achiary, and "Domecq Marinela." But even the shorter pieces have plenty of fascination. Some of the material is archival, but much of it is recent, a sure sign that the art remains very vital in the Basque country

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