Reviews and Articles about Brocelïande

Dirty Linen's review of Barley Rigs January 2006
Santa Maria Sun Article December 2004
CUUPS's Review of Sir Christemas December 2004
Rambles.net's Review of Gathering May September 2004
Independent Coast Observer Article June 2004
SCI FI Magazine's Review of Gathering May June 2004
Sing Out! Magazine's Review of Sir Christemas Winter 2003
Christmasreviews.com's Review of Sir Christemas December 2003
SCI FI Magazine's Review of Sir Christemas December 2003
Green Man Review's Review of Gathering May April 2003
Expose Magazine's Review of Sir Christemas February 2003
Dirty Linen Magazine's Review of Sir Christemas December 2002
NAPRA Review's Review of Sir Christemas December 2002
PanGaia Magazine's Review of Sir Christemas Winter 2002
Victory Review Magazine's Review of Sir Christemas December 2002
East/West Magazine's Review of Sir Christemas December 2002
Galesburg Register-Mail's Review of Sir Christemas December 2002
Chaos Realm's Review of Sir Christemas December 2002
Mythprint Magazine's Review of Sir Christemas December 2001
Expose Magazine's Review of Broceliande July 2001
Green Man Review's Review of Broceliande April 2001
Rambles Cultural Arts Magazine's Review of Broceliande October 2000
KKUP Radio 91.5 FM - Review of Broceliande July 2000

Dirty Linen's review of Barley Rigs
from issue #122, Jan 2006

"The traditional music of the British Isles that links all of the artists reviewed in this column has its roots in ancestral cultures that used merry rituals to mark the changes of seasons in an often cold and dark climate. As I write this just after Halloween, I'm reminded how some of those rituals were powerful enough that they still touch modern celebrants who may be only dimly aware ofthe background of what they do, but who carry them on nevertheless. Halloween parties replace harvest feasts, and even though music is no longer a part of things (except, of course, for the pumpkin carols well known to fans of the old comic strip "Peanuts"!), deep down the spirit is the same.

It's never too late to revive the old music, though. The San Francisco Bay quartet Brocelïande celebrates the autumn harvest season on Barley Rigs [Flowinglass Music FM012 (2004)], which is a followup to previous releases from the group that featured songs of winter and spring. The 16 selections draw from British, French, and early-American tradition dating back to the 12th century, variously saluting the harvest ("The Band o' Shearers"), autumn romance (Robert Burns' "Corn Rigs"), and, of course, fermented beverages ("The Barley Corn"), along with an occasional dark and moody song like "Three Ravens" and two instrumentals that include a stately Bach suite arranged for cello, Celtic harp, oboe, and bouzouki. With four amiable voices and a broad instrumental mix that includes a number of other fretted and wind instruments, Brocelïande presents a warm antidote for the gathering autumnal gloom."

Santa Maria Sun Article
Writer: Craig Shafer
December 2004

A forest in Brittany served as the seed of inspiration for naming a band that has its roots firmly entwined in a culture centuries old. As a forest, Brocelïande (bro-say-le-aund) has historical significance in the French Arthurian legend. As a music group, Brocelïande recreates the sounds, beauty, and pageantry of a time steeped in myth and legend.

Celtic harpist Margaret Davis, one of the group's four performers, said that each member is a multi-instrumentalist who plays instruments both familiar and surprisingly historical, including the flute, recorder, guitar, bouzouki, mandolin, and viola da gamba. But Davis said that what really sets Brocelïande apart from other groups that keep old-world music alive is its broader -- and relatively rarely heard -- repertoire covering Medieval and Renaissance tunes. The group's vocal strength helps, too. "I really do think we have a unique niche," Davis said. Each of the members brings his or her own strengths to the group. They come from a variety of backgrounds: Davis specializes in Medieval music and has studied Medieval French in a graduate setting. Kris Yenney, the band's cellist, comes from a classical background. Karl Franzen is what Davis called their extreme folkie. "He's into all branches of British folk music," she said. "He brings the most authentic British Isles music in. And Kristoph Klover switches between 12-string guitar, the octave mandolin, and oboe."Formed in 1999 and working mostly out of the Bay Area, Brocelïande is starting to stretch its performances southward. Davis said they performed once before for the Lompoc Music Association and had a wonderful reception, making this month's concert a very happy return engagement. The band specializes in Medieval and Renaissance music of the European courts and countrysides, with an emphasis on music inspired by -- and traditionally performed during -- each of the four seasons. And though its music has a historic slant, Brocelïande isn't afraid to add its own mark. "Some of the songs are written down, even though they date from the Middle Ages or the Renaissance, and we start with the basic melody as written," Davis explained. "Then we totally arrange it in our own original style." She said that the group's goal is to recreate the feel of an earlier time and place. And while the vocal arrangements are the group's strength, Davis admits that they play jigs and reels as well.Broceliande's Lompoc concert will be all Christmas and holiday music, "including the well-known pieces and some much lesser known pieces from the British Isles, folk, and French traditional -- music that dates all the way back to the 13th century," Davis said. "We do several pieces that are tied into very specific practices," she explained. "For instance, we perform a song called the "Gloucester Wassail: which is all about carrying the Wassail bowl around English villages from house to house. The "Boar's Head Carol" is fairly self-explanatory: "It's traditionally sung in Oxford and dates back to the Renaissance. They have a procession with a Renaissance-style feast, and that's sung when they bring in the boar's head to celebrate Christmas." Davis said that such pageantry draws her into the music of the Middle Ages, as do the associated colors and beauty, which Broceliande tries to emulate in its concerts. "I'm drawn to the Celtic music partly because I'm of Scottish ancestry," she said. "It just resonates for me." Davis said that the music is so intertwined in her daily life, she can't be separated from it. After spending a year in France among the castles and countrysides, and having studied Medieval art, literature, poetry, and music, she connects to the time periods from which such art sprang. While the harpist claims the show will put people in the Christmas spirit, the holiday program is just one of the band's four sets. As with most traditional Celtic music, the group performs songs pertaining to each season. They've released three seasonally inspired CDs, with the fourth currently in production. Brocelïande hopes to have the musical celebration of the summer season completed next year and to release all four recordings, along with associated seasonal recipes, in a box set through Flowinglass Records (flowinglass.com). "We try to evoke the feel of a time when life was close to the land, more tied to the seasons, and to nature, and we seek to present this repertoire in a joyous, uplifting manner, Davis said."

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CUUPS's Review of Sir Christemas
Writer: Bob Sunde
December 2004

Yeah, yeah, I know, last time I said was hanging this gig up, at least for a while, until I found something to write about. Well, the Goddess moves in mysterious ways, yes indeed, and my never-ending quest for fresh Yule music led me to a new group, a group thatÌs new to me anyway, someone I think you will be very impressed and pleased with. The members of Brocelïande have been playing and singing together near the San Francisco Bay since 1993 and recording since 1999. In their own words, "Our mission: to use historical music in a socially progressive way, to depict mankind in a healthy relationship to the environment, and to seek the liberation of the human spirit, both present and primordial, in as much as can be accomplished, by music and song...and to have too much fun doing it!"

And fun they do have, as will you dear reader, if you give a listen to this merry band. The quartet is comprised of Margaret Davis, Karl Franzen, Kristoph Klover, and Kris Yenney, all of whom sing and perform on various Medieval, Renaissance, Celtic, and modern instruments. Listening to them I find the musicianship, both vocal and instrumental, is impeccable, the choice of material most appealing, and the arrangements skillful, fresh, and lively. The production values are superb too. At the moment Brocelïande has four CDs in print, a fifth in work, and a special sixth one now out of print -- more about that one later.

Although Brocelïande's music is not ostensibly Pagan, it is for the most part ancient and secular, drawing from the folk traditions of Western Europe in several languages and dating back as much as a thousand years. I have it on good authority that three of the bandÌs four members are devotees of earth-centered spirituality, much the same as thee and me. That sensibility is evident in their musical choices. Brocelïande has embarked upon an ambitious project to roll round the wheel and research and record music appropriate to each of the year's four seasons. Three of these CDs have already been completed and released; the most recent, the autumnal Barley Rigs, was out just in time for Thanksgiving, and it got plenty of play at my house on Turkey Day. But the season of Yule is now upon us, so I intend to save the rest of Brocelïande's work for later and focus on their Yuletide offerings right now.

Sir Christemas is, of course, a Christmas album, but by my count half of the tunes presented are secular. On top of that many of the overtly religious songs are presented in deliciously ancient sounding Medieval English, French, or Spanish, so this is a right fine collection of Yule music, one I am certain I will return to year after year.

My favorites include the "Gloucestershire Wassail" at Track 1. The wassail bowl was a great vat of festive punch carried from house to house by English carolers (recipe thoughtfully provided in the liner notes). This opening song gives each of the singers at least a verse to perform and plenty of boisterous opportunity to harmonize on the choruses. Other Yule staples, "The Boar's Head Carol," and "The Holly and the Ivy," are well represented here too. I find Track 11, "Shoot the Wren" very intriguing, personally. It's a variation on a favorite old folk song, "Cutty Wren," I've never run across before. Both the lyrics and the melody are subtly different from the usual, sounding almost jazzy in spots. A minor quibble, owing to the repetitive nature of the lyrics, I think I would have taken this one a wee bit faster in tempo myself.

To conclude this consideration, I especially appreciated MargaretÌs lead vocal work on the two old French tracks, "Un Flambeau, Jeanette Isabelle" and "Entre le Boeuf/Noël Nouvelet." Her singing is clear and evocative, bringing the ancient words truly alive. I have never heard these pieces, particularly the Noël, done better. Trimming a tree, or watching the Yule log spark and burn through the night, you won't find more agreeable music than Brocelïande to accompany your mid-winter sabbat.

The special sixth Brocelïande CD I spoke of above is entitled The Starlit Jewel. It is a collection of poems from J.R.R. Tolkien set to music composed by Marion Zimmer Bradley (yes, that Marion Zimmer Bradley) and friends. You can still listen to song samples at the group's Web site and hear how wonderful this work is. Brocelïande contracted with the Tolkien estate to produce and market only a certain number of these CDs. All are sold now, save for a small stack of remainders recently recovered from a distributor. Margaret Davis informs me the band will auction these one-by-one at eBay over the coming weeks. As of this writing, only seven are left.

The recordings of Brocelïande and related groups, such as the Celtic rock ensemble, Avalon Rising, are available direct from the band at www.broceliande.org. Service is excellent, and payment is via PayPal. Astute readers will note I have left myself three more Brocelïande CDs to talk about later, thus ensuring the continuation of this column into the foreseeable future. See you again at Imbolc. Bright blessings.

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Rambles.net's Review of Gathering May
Reviewer: Sarah Meador
September 2004

Midsummer may seem an odd time to be reviewing Brocelïande's Gathering May: Songs of the Season. The troupe of musical recreators makes it clear that this is a collection of songs to honor the spring, and that gentle season is several months away. Worse for me, this is also the long dry season between Scarborough Faire and the Texas Renaissance Festival, which means I and many faire fans like me are without our favorite diversion at the same time we are without a break in summer temperatures. But that's no reason to go without a troop of traveling minstrels or a breath of springtime air. Brocelïande has made both available, through Gathering May to fill the mundane seasons of the year.Gathering May is the second in Brocelïande's series of seasonal carols from the Middle Ages and Renaissance. While their winter release, Sir Christemas, fit in with the expected carols of the Yule season, listeners may be surprised by the intensity of the same form when applied to spring. These are carols, not pub songs, and it can be jarring to hear the solemn notes of "Dereen Day" announcing a season now associated with light-hearted frolic. The unexpectedly adult sound of the album, with its occasional note of reverent awe, serves as a reminder that the turning of the seasons was once very serious business, and that not only Christmas was seen as worthy of honor for its time. But such a hopeful season inspires bright cheer in any ear, and the playfulness of "It was a Lover & His Lass" or "The Helston Furry" will bring the smell of fresh earth and early flowers to the driest summer or the coldest winter.This is not an Anglocentric album. Fans of French music will take delight in "La Rouse du Moy de May," the sad story of a green coat, and the bright "A l'Entrade del Tens Clar." Spanish and Italian tunes represent warmer climes with moving tunes like "Salterello." History and culture buffs can judge for themselves the different attitudes shown in the Scots song "Tha Mi Sgith" contrasted against the other sometimes parts of the British Empire, as England and Ireland both find themselves well represented. Though most of the album is taken by a cappella songs suitable for impromptu picnic sing-alongs, there are some intimidatingly complex ensemble pieces, with handfuls of singers and instruments layering their skills to produce a sound to please a king. The variety is sure to please Renfest refugees of any type, and could well intrigue even the least historically minded into giving hymns a hearing beyond the Christmas season.Even as pretty a time as May is often most appreciated when it's passed for the year. And while wandering musicians of Broceliande's skill can achieve acclaim on their schedule, they're hard to find on short notice and expensive to hire for private performances. With Gathering May: Songs of the Season, Brocelïande has kindly made the sounds of both season and players available for when they're most wanted

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Independent Coast Observer Article
June 2004

Arena Renaissance Company and Arena Press present Brocelïande - "Of courts and countrysides, early folk music of the British Isles", Saturday, June 26, at 7:30 p.m., at the Arena Theatre in Point Arena. Brocelïande plays Celtic music from the British isles and the Medieval and Renaissance music of the European courts and countrysides, with an emphasis on music inspired by or traditionally performed during each of the four seasons. Early European music has, until recently, been relegated to obscurity, showing up primarily at Renaissance Faires and in the collections of a small, but dedicated following of enthusiasts. All this began to change with the popularization of crossover artists such as Enya and Loreena McKennitt, who used Medieval and Renaissance themes and harmonies in their music. More recently, the haunting soundtracks for the blockbuster Lord of the Rings movie trilogy has greatly increased the interest of the public in this style of music. Brocelïande, a vocal and instrumental quartet consisting of Margaret Davis, Kristoph Klover, Karl Franzen, and Kris Yenney, is an excellent example of a group which brings the rich heritage of pre-classical European music to a modern audience. Featuring stellar vocal and instrumental harmonies, their entrancing sound is built on the interweaving of up to four-part vocals with the lyrical music ofthe Celtic harp, octave mandolin, whistles, percussion, harmonica, and melodeon. Speaking of The Lord of the Rings, the group's first release was The Starlit Jewel, Tolkien's poems set to music. Of this recording, one enthusiastic reviewer said "If you could only own one CD of Tolkien's works, this would be the one." The group followed up this first release with three more, each of which has been received to critical acclaim. The group's repertoire includes original arrangements of traditional and Early music and ranges in feel from upbeat Irish dances to beautiful ballads to exciting four-part a capella madrigals. Their evocative lyrics, including some in Medieval French and Portuguese, speak of love and longing, quests and revels, magic and transformation.The Bay Area-based group, which has been performing together for more than a decade, recently appeared on Sedge Thomson's West Coast Live radio show and is making its first appearance live on the Mendonoma Coast, at the Arena Theatre. Having been the featured musical group in many Sea Ranch and Gualala weddings, now is your chance to see and hear them at the coast's premier musical venue.[Top of page ] [ Back to Main Page ]

SCI FI Magazine's Review of Gathering May
Reviewer: Jeff Berkwits
June 2004

Brocelïande returns with the second installment in their projected four-part series devoted to seasonal melodies. All 16 traditional tunes celebrate spring, fusing archetypal Celtic and Renaissance themes with skilled vocal and instrumental flourishes. "Derreen Day" and "The Helston Furry" highlight gorgeous time-honored motifs, while "Tha Mi Sgith" combines ancient lyrics with a modern stanza penned by famed fantasy author Marion Zimmer Bradley.

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Sing Out! Magazine's Review of Sir Christemas
Winter 2003

Seasonal and Christmas music from several western European traditions, arranged for guitars, harp, winds, and cello, are offered by this California quartet. Some Yuletide chestnuts, some unusual songs (for example, the beautiful "Carol of the Birds") and a few splendid instrumental pieces make this a nice holiday collection.

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Christmasreviews.com's Review of Sir Christemas
Reviewer: Carol Swanson
December 2003

For those who enjoy Renaissance Festivals or just like early music of all stripes, Brocelïande is a real find. Based in the San Francisco Bay area, Brocelïande plays Celtic, medieval and renaissance music; their marvelous sound here mixes sophisticated vocal harmonies with the lyrical instrumentation of the Celtic harp, mandolin, cello, guitar, recorders, oboe, whistles, and melodeon. Brocelïande consists of only four players: Margaret Davis -- voice, Celtic harp, flute, recorders; Karl Franzen -- guitar, voice, octave mandolin, melodeon, whistles; Kristoph Klover -- voice, guitar, octave mandolin, oboe, English horn; and Kris Yenney -- cello, voice. Given how densely layered the instrumentation and vocalizations are, one might guess that many more members must be participating. No, this foursome is able to do it all, and do it with remarkable professionalism."Sir Christemas: Songs of the Season" has 16 tracks on this generous CD (nearly an hour of music). These are almost entirely "carols" in the truest sense -- songs originally associated with dancing; four are instrumentals. Of diverse origins, these numbers cover over 500 years of Western history. The mood is upbeat, invigorating, toe-tapping fun! Everything on "Sir Christemas" works well. Favorites include the rugged "Boar's Head Carol" and the haunting magic of the "Entre le Boeuf/Noël Nouvelet" medley. "Shoot the Wren" is a curiously compelling nursery rhyme set to traditional Irish music; apparently, English Yuletide customs included hunting and capturing a wren, a good luck symbol. Among the instrumental pieces, the "Abbots Bromley Horn Dance" is especially fine with its excellent cello and oboe work. Finally, the lovely medieval Spanish piece "Yo Me Soy La Modenica" is a special treat with exceptional a cappella interludes. Let's lift a cup o' wassail and toast Brocelïande and their impressive "Sir Christemas"! It's a fine, fine holiday choice for the ages.

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SCI FI Magazine's Review of Sir Christemas
Reviewer: Jeff Berkwits
December 2003

In the debut installment in a proposed four-CD set celebrating seasonal folk songs, 16 time-honored tracks capture wintertime's joviality and celebratory charm. Performed by Brocelïande, a skilled quartet renowned for their interpretations of classic Celtic and Renaissance compositions, ditties like "Gaudete" and "Edi Beo Thu" beautifully convey a festive, convivial atmoshpere. Blending mandolins, recorders, and Irish whistles with honeyed voices, this extraordinary ensemble evokes a truly harmonious winter wonderland.

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Green Man Review's Review of Gathering May
Reviewer: Tim Hoke
April 2003

"Welcome, Spring!" proclaims the insert, and on this disc, Brocelïande celebrates that season. Gathering May is the second in a series of seasonal recordings; seasonal in this case referring to the four seasons of the year. Sir Christemas was recorded for Winter, and releases for Summer and Autumn are pending.I had no idea that there were so many songs about May, Spring, robins, and the like. The music ranges from madrigals to Irish songs to English Morris songs. I don't see the Spring connection with a couple of the songs, but they're good songs all the same, so I suppose it doesn't matter.On this CD, the group's vocal talents shine. The madrigals are particularly beautiful, with sweet, balanced harmonies. (Listen carefully for Karl Franzen's bass voice anchoring "A Robyn, Gentil Robyn." Nice.) This shouldn't be a surprise to anyone who has heard their previous recordings. Another gem is the ballad "John Riley." Kris Yenney begins this one in a fairly traditional style, but gradually introduces jazz-flavored inflections, while in the background, Margaret Davis' flute can be heard getting jazzier as well. While the vocals seem to be featured, Brocelïande's instrumental skills are not lacking, although somewhat understated. The blend on "Rossignolet du Bois" of cello, recorder, oboe and guitar is a rich one, one of my favorites on the recording.The album's insert contains lyrics for the songs, plus translations for most of the songs not in English. The pages are decorated with graphics by Davis, Spring-y things like birds and flowers. Davis also graces the front cover; Brocelïande is a quartet, and each member will represent a season (Kristoph Klover appears on the cover of Sir Christemas). As a bonus, the back page has a recipe for a traditional May Day punch that sounds appealing. So, if you'll excuse me, I'm off to get a bottle of white wine, and find some sprigs of sweet woodruff.

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Expose Magazine's Review of Sir Christemas
Reviewer: Jim Chokey
February 2003

Bay area acoustic quartet Brocelïande [see reviews in ExposÈ #22] has launched upon an ambitious project entitled "Songs of The Season". The idea is to release four albums, each of which focuses on early/traditional songs associated with a different season. Sir Christemas, the first to appear, is the winter CD, containing sixteen carols associated with Christmas and other midwinter festivals. A handful of these, like "The Holly and the Ivy" and "Away in a Manger" will be well-known to modern listeners, but Brocelïande's repertoire extends to several older and more obscure tunes. This includes medieval hymns like "Yo Me Soy La Modenica" and "Edi Beo Thu"; pieces by Bach, O'Carolan, Dowland, and other Renaissance/Baroque composers; as well as melodies like "Shoot the Wren" which come from a more popular folk tradition. The ensemble's four members perform all these pieces on a range of acoustic instruments, with guitar, harp, recorder, cello, mandolin, and oboe being most prevalent. All four members sing (in five different languages!), and the vocal arrangements are impressive throughout -- perhaps nowhere more so than in the a cappella title track. Taken as a whole, the overall feel of this CD is one of irrepressible cheeriness, which seems most appropriate for a collection of songs about holiday celebration. This isn't really progressive rock -- or even progressive folk -- but it's a beautiful album of well-done traditional/early Christmas music that should appeal to fans of Steeleye Span, Malicorne, Loreena McKennitt and the like.

[Top of page ] [ Back to Main Page ]Dirty Linen Magazine's Review of Sir Christemas
Reviewer: Bruce E. Baker
December 2002

Brocelïande is a very capable four-piece ensemble in the early-music/Baroque/Celtish mold. On this Christmas recording, the players cover a very broad range of music from Western Europe, everything from an interesting hymn in Middle English to French carols, English wassails, Bach tunes, and even familiar Christmas songs. Margaret Davis has a high, clear voice and considerable talent on the harp. A pleasant blend of guitars, cello, oboe, flute, and so forth combine with some fine harmony singing to make this an enjoyable CD to put on while trimming trees, baking cookies, and all those other midwinter tasks. The CD booklet also includes a recipe for wassail punch.

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NAPRA Review's Review of Sir Christemas
December 2002

SIR CHRISTEMAS: Songs of the Season by Brocelïande. Sixteen entertaining tunes in medieval and Renaissance styles range from "Gloucestershire Wassail" to "Un Flambeau, Jeanette, Isabelle" (with French and English lyrics), the Latin "Gaudete," an lrish instrumental, and 12 more with similar variety -- including one song in Medieval English.This excellent quartet not only plays Celtic harp, flute, guitar, period instruments, oboe, English horn, and cello, it also shines on vocals, with qualities that suit the pub/street-singing feel of certain cuts. Engaging Old World atmospheres.

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PanGaia Magazine's Review of Sir Christemas
Reviewer: Elizabeth Barrette
Winter 2002

If you're so sick of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer that you'd like to roast him and put him on the table with an apple in his mouth, never fear! Brocelïande to the rescue! Drawing from a diversity of European and American cultures, Sir Christemas: Songs of the Season presents songs in English, French, German, and Spanish spanning periods from the 13th to 20th centuries. The words hark to Christmas, Yule, Winter Solstice, and other "Festivals of Light" integral to this time of year. Detailed liner notes give lyrics for the vocal pieces, historical context and attributions for all songs, and other fascinating background information.My favorite tracks include the rousing "Gloucestershire Wassail", "The Boar's Head Carol" with blended Pagan/Christian symbolism, an exquisitely soulful rendition of "The Holly and the Ivy", and "Edi Beo Thu" which is a sprightly homage to the Virgin Mary as Queen of Heaven. Actually, I loved them all. Brocelïande consists of Margaret Davis (vocals, flute, Celtic harp, recorders), Karl Franzen (guitar, octave mandolin, vocals, whistle, harmonica, melodeon, hand-drum), Kristoph Klover (vocals, 12-string and 6-string guitars, octave mandolin, oboe), and Kris Yenney (cello, viol, percussion, vocals). Visit their gorgeous website at: www.flowinglass.com.If you're planning to throw a mixed party and you want entertainment that won't offend your Pagan guests or your Christian guests, this is the album to play. Put it on your shopping list, too; Sir Christemas: Songs of the Season is a perfect gift for fans of traditional music. This is far and again the best winter holiday release I've heard since MotherTongue released This Winter's Night. Best of all, this is but the first of four albums -- Brocelïande plans to release three more, covering seasonal music throughout the year. Most highly recommended.

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Victory Review Magazine's Review of Sir Christemas
Reviewer: James Rodgers
December 2002

This is not your father's Christmas music. You would have to go back a lot more generations to even be close. The 16 tracks on Sir Christemas range from the thirteenth to the twentieth century, with most of them being hundreds of years old. None of the four musicians and singers that make up Brocelïande is near that age, but the music and vocals they create sure sound authentic. The harmonies of Margaret Davis, Karl Franzen, Kristoph Klover, and Kris Yenney are warm and inviting, making them perfect to sing carols of the winter holidays. Accompanying their beautiful vocals is equally wonderful music played on guitar, Celtic harp, flute, melodeon, octave mandolin, tin whistle, cello, gamba, and percussion. The full effect is music that transports you back more smoothly than any time machine, with all the aural brilliance and without all the hardship and disease. It's a Medieval and Renaissance classic for the 21st century.

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East/West Magazine's Review of Sir Christemas
Reviewer: Lee Starkey
December 2002

We had the great fortune to host the wonderful Celtic and Early music quartet, Brocelïande earlier this year. It was one of the best-received events we have ever had. Our delighted concertgoers would have liked Brocelïande to play through the wee hours -- and Brocelïande probably has just the wide-ranging repertoire and sheer exuberance to do it. Luckily, Brocelïande has agreed to do a return performance for the Christmas/ Solstice season. It will feature songs from their latest work, Sir Christemas, the first of a series of four albums in the spirit of the four seasons. Sir Christemas includes a few well-known (but still Brocelïandesque) Christmas favorites like"The Holly and the Ivy" and "Away in the Manger", but most are less-often-recorded seasonal gems of Western European and American lineage, including one of my own all-time favorite songs,"Abbots Bromley Horn Dance". Even if you already have many, I think Sir Christemas is a Christmas album that you will very, very much enjoy. And even if you have already gone to many, Brocelïande will be performing a Christmas concert here at East West Bookshop on Saturday, December 14th that you will not want to miss.

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Galesburg Register-Mail's Review of Sir Christemas
Reviewer: Robert Buck
December 2002

Tired of Bing Crosby's "White Christmas" and Gene Autry's "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer"? Try a Christmas CD with a deeper tradition than the typical seasonal fare found on radio stations this time of year: Sir Christemas. Sir Christemas is the first disc in a four-volume series of "Songs of the Season" by the Oakland, Calif.-based Brocelïande. The band plays Celtic, medieval and Renaissance music and may be known to regular readers of The Register-Mail as one of the musical outlets for Galesburg native Margaret Davis. Davis also has released recordings with the modern Celtic band Avalon Rising and as a solo artist (accompanied by some of her bandmates). Brocelïande's collection of "songs for Christmas and winter celebrations" induces a festive spirit from the first chorus of "Gloucestershire Wassail." For the uninitiated, the liner notes in the CD booklet include not only lyrics to each tune (and translations of those in foreign tongues), but historical notes on their origins. For example: "The wassail bowl was a great vat of festive punch carried from house to house by English carolers. The word derives from the Old English wes hal, meaning 'be thou whole.' This particular version is among the best-known wassail songs and dates from the 18th century. ..." Some of the arrangements are solely instrumental, featuring the Celtic harp, cello, guitar, octave mandolin, melodeon and more. Others showcase the beautiful voices of Davis, husband Kristoph Klover, Karl Franzen and Kris Yenney. As with Brocelïande's other music, many of the songs on Sir Christemas conjure images of medieval festivals, complete with courtly feasts at tables laden with silver platters bearing roasted animals and fruits and cheeses and flagons of ale and cider. And if that gets your stomach to making noises, the CD booklet includes a recipe for Wassail Punch. The 16 tracks come from many lands - Germany, England, France, Spain and Ireland - and include at least one familiar carol. But, "Away in a Manger" is given a Norman treatment in one take that makes it at once both comfortable and new. Still, the newness of these songs to most ears makes Sir Christemas a fine addition to the Christmas CD collection. As on previous CDs, Davis also is credited for the artwork and graphics on the cover and in the booklet. The next disc in the series, "Gathering May," will be released in the spring.

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Chaos Realm's Review of Sir Christemas
Reviewer: Ray Dorsey
December 2002

BROCELIANDE - "Sir Christmas" CD - The latest release to feature Margaret Davis (of the awesome Celtic-prog band, Avalon Rising) this one is seasonally-oriented Celtic music played much more acoustically than AR. I like it because it catches the true vibe of the holidays while not being anything like a commercialized "Christmas" album. Truly, you can listen to this one year round!

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Mythprint Magazine's Review of Sir Christemas
Reviewer: Eleanor Farrell
December 2001

Mythcon favorites Brocelïande have a new CD released just in time for the holidays. Sir Christemas includes the group's arrangements of such songs as "The Boar's Head Carol," "Away in a Manger," and "Carol of the Birds," plus a selection of lesser- known vocal and instrumental pieces, all of which demonstrate the group's usual musical virtuosity.

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Expose Magazine's Review of Brocelïande
Reviewer: Jim Chokey
July 2001

Brocelïande is the acoustic four-piece of Margaret Davis, Kristoph Klover, Karl Franzen and Kris Yenney, who all share singing duties and play multiple instruments, with flute, recorder, harp, guitar, mandola, and cello appearing the most often. Their self-titled album features twelve pieces from medieval, baroque, and folk traditions. Given the presence of Davis and Klover (also of Avalon Rising), it's not surprising that there are some similarities in style between Brocelïande, Princess of Flowers, and Avalon Rising's CD. There is, however, a bit more levity to Broceliande's repertoire, which includes some cheerier tracks like "Hal-an-Tow", "As I Roved Out", and the perky "Il est bel et bon" (done a cappella) to balance out the more serious ones. Melancholy and spiritual longing are still present, however, and the most compelling track is easily Brocelïande's arrangement of the 12th century Portuguese hymn "Santa Maria, Strela do Dia." Those seeking comparisons might think of Brocelïande as an energetic, acoustic answer to the music of Loreena McKennitt or Dead Can Dance.

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Green Man Review's Review of Brocelïande
Reviewer: Tim Hoke
April 2001

What do you get when you mix Early music with Celtic tunes, throw in some skilled playing, add outstanding singing, and blend well? Apparently, you get Brocelïande.Their self-titled release contains equal portions of Celtic and Early music, plus an interesting pairing of an original tune with a Bach cello sarabande. Most of the tracks are vocal, which is not surprising, considering how well these folks sing. The disc has tasty vocal harmonies in plenty, including two selections featuring some beautiful four-part a cappella singing. The vocal leads are full and strong, never fear, but it's the harmonizing that makes this so delightful to hear.In addition, each the band members is also a fine instrumentalist. Margaret Davis plays some sweet recorder, plus harp and flute. Kristoph Klover and Karl Franzen add the fretted instruments. Klover usually plays mandola, and Franzen guitar, with the two exchanging instruments on a couple of cuts. Anchoring the group's sound is the warm, lyrical cello playing of Kris Yenney. While the members are quite good individually, their true strength is in their ability to support and blend with each other. On every track, it's obvious that you are listening to a team.The material here is well chosen to showcase the collective talents of Brocelïande. The production is excellent, with the voices and instruments carefully balanced. Multi-tracking is used sparingly, but effectively. I only wish the album had run longer. I didn't calculate the length, but it seemed to run a bit on the short side for a CD. Of course, it could be that I enjoyed it so much that I wasn't ready for it to end.The Starlit Jewel was a recording that I was eager to listen to as soon as I heard about it. It consists entirely of songs taken from J. R. R. Tolkien's books The Lord Of The Rings and The Hobbit. Most of the arrangements are by Marion Zimmer Bradley, with additional arrangements by either Kristoph Klover or Margaret Davis. As on the previous recording, the singing and playing are exceptional. The quartet settings, however, are absent. This release features Klover and Davis primarily, although Karl Franzen and Kris Yenney are present on several cuts. Other musicians contribute their talents as well. Two in particular that stand out are Aodh Og O Tuama, who plays some driving spoons, and percussionist Deidre McCarthy, who sings a lovely lead part on "Lament For Boromir". This album, too, is great listening, with nary a lame track. Thirteen songs, though, barely scratches the surface of Tolkien's poetry. Is there a Volume Two in the planning stages? By the way, if you are wondering exactly how to pronounce Brocelïande, there is a handy guide on their web site.

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Rambles Cultural Arts Magazine's Review of Brocelïande
Reviewer: Tom Knapp
October 2000

There are lots of Irish pub bands on the market. There are also a fair number of "courtly" bands better suited to a medieval or Renaissance feasting hall. Often, there is a sharp division between them.

Not so with Brocelïande, a California band which has found the common ground between them. With fine string instrumentation and vocal harmonies which would do any madrigal group proud, Brocelïande would suit well a royal court setting. But they're not pretentious about it, and they're not afraid to let their hair down at the end of the day.

The band members all excel at various points in the album. All four members sing, often in harmony or with various members taking the lead. All are talented instrumentally, too, featuring Margaret Davis on recorders, flute and Celtic harp, Karl Franzen on guitar, mandola, tin whistle and doumbek, Kristoph Klover on mandola and 12-string guitar, and Kris Yenney on string bass, cello, tenor viola da gamba and dolphin drum. It's an understatement, but I'll say it anyway: these four are good. Each is a master of the various instruments they play, and their arrangements are intricate, exciting, exceptional music. Their vocals are good; their vocal harmonies are exquisite.

The self-titled album begins with the classic Celtic ballad "As I Roved Out," which seems to be all about romance until the soldier of the tale leaves the friendly innkeeper's daughter holding the bag -- or, rather, his child. That leads to an Irish tune set featuring, among other things, the too-rarely used cello as a melody instrument. The band flows effortlessly from there into the 12th-century Portugese cantiga "Santa Maria, Strela do Dia" and, next, a modern piece based on a traditional Irish chorus titled "Dulaman."

Yenney's cello is back in the spotlight for "Sarabande from Suite for Unaccompanied Cello in G Major/Century House," which blends a Bach piece with a new composition. Then the band swaps vocal duties for the jolly English traditional song for spring, "Hal-an-Tow." Davis does a sweet turn leading vocals on the Scottish ballad "The Broom o' the Cowdenknowes" before wielding several recorders to lead the lively "Cantiga Medley." The slow, sweet traditional song "Blackwaterside" leads into the 16th-century French madrigal "Il est Bel et Bon." This lively bit of a capella vocal acrobatics is fast, fun and entirely too short. Next comes the 18th-century English drinking song "Here's to the Maiden," a pleasant group sing-a-long which finds merit for drinking in any female in the room, as evidenced by the chorus: "Let the toast pass / Drink to the lass / I warrant she'll prove / An excuse for the glass." The CD concludes with the 16th-century madrigal "My Heart doth Beg You'll not Forget," another beautiful a capella piece for four voices. Brocelïande is easily among the best in their specialized field of traditional music. Vocally and instrumentally, the band is flawless and the arrangements are never dull. This is a keeper.

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KKUP Radio 91.5 FM - Review of Brocelïande
Reviewer: Don Campau
July 2000

BROCELIANDE (CD) Beautifully recorded British Isles inspired music from this talented Bay Area quartet.They stick to the traditional side on this 12 track CD and although no new ground is broken this group has a real feel for what it takes to do this kind of stuff well. I would imagine they are a popular live group indulging the crowd with magnificent harmonies and tasteful and well played arrangements featuring that pleasant folk sound. Makes me wish I wasn't fed up with traditional things Irish and/or English. It's a phase I'm in, sorry. This would make a good holiday present for acoustic music lovers, it has that kind of feeling.

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Contact Margaret: margaret@flowinglass.com (510) 409-6095  

 

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