David Arkenstone

The Celtic Book of Days

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Anyone who loves the Chieftains but is looking for music with more of a beat will likely end up wearing out this jewel of a CD, 66 minutes of some of the most delectably written and produced Celtic-themed instrumental music ever recorded by anybody. "Equos Fair" starts off with a spirited quotation of original and traditional themes (especially one piece that is often quoted by Alan Stivell) on pipes, tin whistle, harp, guitar, and drums, with horns -- the effect sort of makes one think of the Chieftains imitating Ennio Morricone. There are some gorgeous choral passages as well, and swelling, airy new age interludes (after all, this is a Windham Hill release), and synthesizer-ornamented sections that may recall Mike Oldfield at his most lyrical. Some tracks, like "Heart of Spring," move a little too close to Celtic-flavored movie music, but even there it's good Celtic-flavored film-style composition. Overall, this is memorable, alternately exciting and soothing, and one of the most worthwhile releases in the Windham Hill catalog.

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