Basque Music for Kids
Doktor Do Re Mi eta Benedizebra
Txirri, Mirri eta Txirribiton
eta Euskadiko Orkestra Sinfonikoa
Pirritx eta Porrotx
This trio of recent children's CDs from Europe's Basque country is an illustration that the best way to write for children is to write to them, not down to them. These three veteran groups have been doing music for decades and are constantly improving. Oskorri has a wide repertoire and is primarily an adult folk-roots band, but have done a number of child-oriented records of which this is the most recent.
It is often said that one's favorite singer would sound good "singing the phone book." Here, on "Bat, bi, hiru, lau," Oskorri opens by simply singing the Basque numbers from one to twenty, and back to one again, and they sound good doing it, too. Doctor Do Re Mi is a collection of 23 children's songs, mostly traditional, primarily among those collected by folklorists like R.M. Azkue, and Aita Donostia. Most songs are sung by Natxo de Felipe, with two by the more mellow Anton Latxa.
Ultimately, the sound on this one is not far from Oskorri's recent recordings, such as Desertore and Viscayatik Bizkaiara. In particular, Inigo Egia sparkles on 14 different types of percussion, including darbuka and txalaparta.
The other two recordings are by groups that have made their reputation less with musical excellence and more, well, as clowns. But their music is still well-loved by children. Txirri, Mirri and Txirribiton were the first clowns to perform in Basque, and have been doing so for more than 30 years. They also appear regularly on Basque TV.
In this recent record, they perform several of their standards such as "Paristik Natorren," "Zapi Zuri, "Pintto Pintto," and "Txirri Mirri eta Txirribiton," a kind of theme song. These are tried and true, but the revelation here is the orchestra. The clownish songs take on a classical-romantic sound, reminiscent at times of Prokofiev's Peter and the Wolf. The symphony is beautifully and tastefully led by Juan Jose Ocon; the songs also stand the test.
In Pirritx and Porrotx's second recording without their old collaborator, singer Takolo, this clown-couple once again explores new musical territory with a variety of friends from Basque music and culture. Xabier Zabala remains the musical genius behind this group.
Included on this CD are the rap group Selektah Kolektioboa on "Erleekin Rap," Oreka TX on txalaparta, Tapia eta Leturia on accordion and tambourine, sculptor Juan Gorriti on vocals and irrintzina, and many others. Basque instruments such as alboka, txistu and dulzaina also feature.
On "Anakleto," "Arre eta So," and other tracks, Pirritx eta Porrotx explore a rock-oriented sound. But the CD concludes with a rendition of late bard Etxahun Iruri's folk anthem "Agur Xiberua."
All three CDs were tested on actual children, 3 and 6 years old, and have plenty of little Basque children's voices singing along in the ancient language, Euskera. All are a worthy addition to any child's collection, or any adult's. - David Cox
Oskorri's CD is available from cdRoots
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