Susana Seivane
Susana Seivane
Green Linnet (

cd cover The taste for bagpipe music is an acquired one. Because these ancient instruments are not so well-tempered as their modern cousins, players must work hard to produce clear, stable notes. But this characteristic can also be exploited by masters to add excitingly complex and evocative treatments to melodies, a quarter-tone swoop here, a tight warble there, a split-second octave leap between adjacent notes. On her debut recording, young Spanish piper Susana Seivane demonstrates the power of such mastery. Working with members of Milladoiro, Seivane illuminates the northern Iberian musical tradition, in which medieval, Celtic, and Moorish influences swirl and dance.

Festivities begin with "Jotabé," a quick 6/8 jota starting with lively bouzouki and accordion, perking way up with the entrance of Seivane's pipes, high-pitched and eccentrically accurate. In "Taramundi e Alén," a gentle waltz with high pipes interacting with zither suggests a children's dance on a merry-go-round, before blending into a more densely arranged waltz featuring violin and flute in fugue with the main bagpipe melody. Beginning quietly with a very medieval oboe and flute duet over a deep drone, "Pasacorredoiras de Ponteareas" gradually acquires Seivane's warbling pipes and a deliberate waltz beat before transforming into a quick celebration in straight time. "Sabeliña" is a happy, galloping rumba, hand drum and bass driving a pipe melody so intuitive you feel you've been whistling it for years, with violin and accordion lending a flamenco edge to the rhythm. Seivane sings as well, joining Sonia Lebedynski in harmony on "Maneo," a slow, ominous song with a Moorish feel and a subdued, mysterious beauty. Purists can savor Seivane's piping on "Xoto dos 28 Puntos," on which she is accompanied only by a hand drum which follows her difficult rhythms like a shadow.

The music of the pipes may be an acquired taste, but mastery such as Susana Seivane's makes the acquisition especially rewarding. - Jim Foley

Audio "Sabelina" ©2000 Green Linnet records, used by permission

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