Puirt a Baroque,
Bach Meets Cape Breton
(Marquis, 1996)

Placing a historical figure in a different time or place is a common literary technique in science fiction and fantasy genres. But Puirt a Baroque, a trio of classically and traditionally trained musicians, have managed to bring the idea to a new horizon.

What if J.S. Bach, generally considered the greatest Baroque composer, had visited or been raised on Nova Scotia's Cape Breton Island? Well, it's possible Bach's music would have turned out very much like the tracks on this album, which mixes a stately approach to chamber music with the freewheeling jam so common at a Cape Breton ceilidh. It doesn't sound like the two should mix well, and yet they do with amazing ease in the hands of these musicians.

Most of the tunes on this album are traditional pieces, with some originals from the trio and other Cape Breton musicians thrown in. But there are a few classical composers represented here, too -- Henry Purcell, for instance, and of course Bach himself. The transition from Baroque to Cape Breton is particularly well-handled in the title track.

This ear-pleasing notion is the brainchild of David Greenberg on baroque and modern violins, Scott Macmillan on classical and steel-string guitars, and David Sandall on harpsichord. Together, they have crafted a grand tribute to two diverse musical genres in one gorgeously wrapped package.

[ by Tom Knapp ]
Rambles: 23 February 2002

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