Anuna-self titled and Invocation (medieval Celtic/liturgical music)

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Anuna-self titled and Invocation (medieval Celtic/liturgical music)

"Invocation" is a stupendous musical achievement. I say this as someone who, if you looked at my music collection, you would not expect ever to hear this music, much less to buy it twice (on cassette in 1996 and on CD last year). So Ill try to put into words the several things that hooked me: 1) The sweetest, most delicate soprano singing this side of heaven ("The Last Rose", sung by Sara Clancy and "Winter Fire and Snow" and "Siuil a Riun", sung by Katie McMahon). 2) Strange, disturbing, yet thrilling harmonies that seem to delve into deep layers of wonder and awe ("Sleepsong", "Quis Est Deus", and especially "Goltrai"). 3) Humorous male vocal shenanigans ("Hin Bara"). 4) Surges of dark, mysterious urgency and excitement ("Firi Na Greine/The Rising of the Sun", and my two favorite tracks "Heia Viri" and "Song of Oisin") 5) Harmonies that are so drop-dead gorgeous I have no words for them ("Innisfree").
If youre not familiar with Anuna, they were (as of this 1996 CD) an Irish ensemble of 19 men and women (only 12 pictured in the fold-out, most looking to be in their twenties), under the direction of Michael McGlynn who has arranged original interpretations of various forms of Irish vocal music of roughly the last thousand years, with minimal instrumentation. I asked a Celt-o-phile friend where these adventurous vocal harmonies come from and she explained that through the centuries the Irish always took harmonic liberties that were discouraged by the more regimented compositional styles of Britain and mainland Europe. Im not sure where Anuna recorded, but the CD has that live-in-a-cathedral sound that is appropriate to the music. This was their second CD. I made my way backward from this CD to their first self-titled album "Anuna", which falls short of "Invocation" by only the slightest of margins, but I have not yet made my way forward to their more recent efforts. I have promoted this CD like a missionary, as Im doing now. Ive found to my astonishment some people I expected to like it did not share my enthusiasm. But if youre one who does, and this review helps you find it, then that is why Im writing it. (Amazon review)
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Anuna-self titled and Invocation (medieval Celtic/liturgical music) 2018.04.29
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