François Lazarevitch and Les Musiciens de Saint-Julien
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cd cover François Lazarevitch & Les Musiciens de Saint-Julien
Danses de Bergers, Danses des Loups
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French legend has it that the bagpipes have a special power over wolves.

Depending on who is telling the tale, the instrument can be used to either charm or intimidate the animal. François Lazarevitch uses his cornemuse to charm and presumably not to intimidate dancers. On this release, Lazarevitch and his ensemble explore the music of Central France and Auvergne, with special emphasis on the bourrée, a dance with many permutations. The form originated in the early seventeenth century, and can be in duple or triple meter, depending upon the region from which it springs. It is up for debate as to whether the dance developed in the court or countryside.

Les Musiciens de Saint-Julien have a gritty, bucolic sound that perfectly captures the rustic drive of the bourrée. Using bagpipes, hurdy-gurdy, violin, and accordion, they grind out the lilting melodies with a relentless energy. The only percussion is Lazarevitch's foot rhythm, tapping out metronomic beats. Most of the tracks here are medleys of several bourrées, preceded by a slow air or waltz. A few polkas are thrown in for good measure, and there's even a medley of hymns, played on solo chabrette. They vary the texture and tone quality by using different pairings and groupings of instruments, but the inherent pungency of each of the individual instruments makes for an overall strident sound. By the end of the fifty minutes, your ears are ready for a rest. It's a good intensity, though, leaving you feeling like you've just had a good teeth-cleaning. - Peggy Latkovich

Listen to some excerpts

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