Milladoiro 25
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Galicia, the northwestern most autonomous region of Spain, has a Romance language all its own, related to Portuguese more closely than Spanish. Despite not being today a land of Celtic speakers, Galicia often considers itself a proud part of the Celtic world, and Milladoiro celebrates a heritage that survives not in language but in the traditional music of the Galician provinces.

On their 17th CD the band celebrates its 25th anniversary with 15 tracks, primarily instrumental, that feature a sound that owes as much to Irish music as it does to the music of Iberia. Their contemporaries and influences include the Battlefield Band, the Chieftains, Oskorri, and Alan Stivell. Over the years they have changed personnel, but remain vibrant.

This collection is a re-imaginging of some of their most important songs rather than a compilation. It features some solid playing from the Gallego-Celt tradition. With guitar, harp, violin, mandolin, hurdy-gurdy, and gaita, tracks such as the mysterious air "Maruxa" and livelier ones such as "Chouteira" (reminiscent of Barahunda) span the cultural distance.

The current lineup is Antón Seoane on accordion, guitar, keyboard, hurdy-gurdy; Xosé Antón F. Méndez, flutes; Nando Casal, on gaita, clarinet, whistle, and crumhorn; Xosé V. Ferreirós on gaita, uilleann pipes, oboe, mandolin, bouzouki; Moncho García Rey: on percussion; Harry c. on violin and mandolin; Roi Casal on harp, bouzouki, ocarina, and zither; and Manu Conde, on guitar and bouzouki.

Italian singer Claudia Ferronato provides vocals on "Tanote m'ho insogná," where she sounds a bit like Sian James but singing a capella in the local language of Venice. As well, she is featured with the band on the more Iberian-flavored "Voaría a Compostela."

Other prominent guest artists include Irish New Yorker Eileen Ivers, with fiddle on upbeat dance tunes such as "Aires da Farruquiña" and "Lavandeiras de San Paio." Both the American virtuoso Rhonda Larson (flute) and Galician piper Susana Seivane (gaita) feature prominently on "Chouteira," while Anxo Pintos plays hurdy gurdy on "A Bruixa."

A mix of contemplative airs and livelier reel-like tunes, 25 features by turns the melancholy and the more energetic, danceable side of this veteran band, leaving no doubt about the Celtic connections in this part of the world. - David Cox

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