Le Chant Basque

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The Basques are one of the mysterious peoples of Europe. They seem to predate all the other ethnic groups there, even the Celts. Their language is unique and unrelated to any other in the world. As an oral and a maritime people, song plays a large role in their culture, which raises the question: If these folks are so interesting, why is the music on this album so unremarkable? It's not that it's bad; on the contrary it's very pleasant and well-performed. But, except for a few small touches, it sounds like any large men's chorus from any country in the Western world. It also sounds like they are singing hymns in a church. Once in a while a drum or a flute will drop in for a few seconds and occasionally the music takes some unusual turn, like Gypsy music; otherwise nothing but the language distinguishes the proceedings. Those who like the sound of Russian chorus or Gerald Finzi will probably enjoy this album. Those who are looking for an album to introduce them to Basque culture, however, or those just looking for novelty, need not bother.

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