Various Artists

The Celtic Circle

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The term "Celtic" covers a broad sweep of music, from the traditional to new age, and this compilation seems intended to offer selections from all areas -- though with a slight emphasis on the new age end rather than music with a deep history. To that end, there are plenty of sweeping synthesizer chords, aching vocals, and rich, ethereal harmonies, and material from Clannad -- which, after all, helped pioneer that end of the genre. But, to be fair, there's also Alan Stivell, the Chieftains with Sinéad O'Connor, and Anuna to hold up the other end, which they do very well. But nothing can really explain the inclusion of Vangelis or Sarah McLachlan, or "The Fellowship of the Ring Suite" and "Hedwig's Theme" -- at least "Braveheart Trilogy" makes sense under the circumstances. And one can only assume the producers couldn't license Enya's original of "May It Be," settling for a cover version instead. However, it's impossible to condemn this set since, just as you are about to despair, something more rooted to tradition arrives to redeem it. So it could be worse -- but it could be better, too. A mixed bag, trying to be all things Celtic to all people. Unfortunately, that can never work completely -- and here it definitely doesn't.

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