Aubrac is a region in south-central France where traditional music has maintained a space in the everyday life of the community. This music remained central to local identity, in spite of many people having to leave the area (at least seasonally) to find work. The primary instrument is the chromatic accordion, which overtook the "cabrette" bagpipe in popularity sometime within the past century. Accordéonistes en Aubrac showcases nine accordion players from the region, drawn from several different generations. These include major figures like Roger Vaissade to young people like Cyprien Dominge who have spent most of their short lives playing.
Some of the musicians include plenty of ornamentation in their playing, and all of them illustrate the characteristic style of playing the music with light fingers and a heavy beat. The right hand takes the melody, prancing about very energetically at times, while the left hand is used for the punctuation of harmony and rhythm.
The 30 tracks include polkas, waltzes, plenty of bourées (generally all designed to accompany dancing) and a couple of songs. While the release fully steeps the listener in the tradition, it is hard to distinguish among the different tempos. Maybe more variety in presentation would help the novice to appreciate the distinctions. Nevertheless, the CD and accompanying booklet are a good introduction to the history and the living tradition of Aubrac accordion music. - Ivan Emke
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