Heather Dale,
This Endris Night
(Amphisbaena, 2002)

In these days when Christmas has become a big commercial holiday, Heather Dale has chosen to take a look at Christmas before the days of Santa Claus. This Endris Night is an enjoyable exploration of Medieval and Renaissance Christmas music from before 1700. Dale plays on traditional instruments, including hammered dulcimer, bowed psaltery, keyboards, various flutes and recorders, as well as various percussion; it combines with her pleasing vocals to give this CD a nice, traditional folk sound.

Dale uses one of the less familiar tunes for the opening track, "Ave Maria," which is one of several songs sung in their original language, in this case Latin. The title track, also known as "The Other Night," includes a not-so-ancient instrument for percussion: the computer desk. "Es Ist Ein' Ros'," which is more familiar as "Lo, How a Rose E'er Blooming," is sung in the original German and features some nice vocal harmonies.

On "I Saw Three Ships/Song of the Ship," Dale does a very nice job of combining two songs into one. The result is a unique, thoughtful arrangement. "Quen Pastores," also sung in Latin, features some lovely vocal harmonies. The percussion on "Coventry Carol" gives it a more Medieval sound than many of the more recent versions of this song. "The Huron Carol" is sung in both the Wendat French Indian and English languages. Dale chose the original lyrics over the 20th century version, "Twas the Moon in Wintertime."

One of the CD's best songs is "Veni, Veni, Emmanuel," also sung in Latin with a beautiful vocal arrangement. Dale also does a good job of combining the familiar "Good King Wenceslas" with the less familiar "Flower Carol." The CD closes with "The Holly & the Ivy," which takes on more of a jazz flavor to liven up the song a bit. The jazz-flavored vocals combine happily with a hammered dulcimer.

Dale, from Toronto, Canada, has devoted most of her original music to songs about the legends of King Arthur. As a member of the SCA, she has done a great job of incorporating her love of history of the Middle Ages into great music. While This Endris Night doesn't really give her a chance to show her talents as a wonderful songwriter and storyteller, it lets her demonstrate her talents as a musician and arranger. If you like traditional Christmas music, this one is a good choice.

- Rambles
written by Dave Townsend
published 28 December 2002