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I'm a very new fan of Owain Phyfe's, but I plan to spend as much time as needed to change that. The next CD I plan to purchase is Odyssey.

REVIEW OF OWAIN PHYFE'S POETS, BARDS AND SINGERS OF SONG
by Willa, ATF Staff Writer

Owain Phyfe at the Jubilee College Olde Worlde FaireIf you read my review of Owain Phyfe's performances at the Jubilee College Olde World Faire in Brimfield, Illinois, then you already know the difficulty I faced when trying to decide which of Owain's CD's to purchase. I have to say that I'm very happy with the decision I made.

This is most definitely the most diverse collection of songs I've ever owned.

Owain Phyfe, who has been a performer at renaissance faires for about 20 years, is actually a very well-studied man with a love of songs from the renaissance era. He's traveled quite a bit and it shows in the way he puts forth his songs.

Poets, Bards, and Singers of Song is filled with melodies in many languages that were written anywhere from the 12th century up to the 17th century. There's even one, Worldes Blis, that is technically in English, but was written so long ago that you won't understand the words. But still it speaks to the listener. It sounds so beautiful, but when you comprehend the lyrics it becomes tragically beautiful. And there's nothing I love more in this world than a good oxymoron...

This brings me to another thing about this CD that I love. Each song's lyrics are printed for you to read, and the translations are right next to it. So when you fall in love with the French Ja Nus Hons Pris as I have, you will know that you have heard the words of King Richard the Lionhearted when he was sitting in prison.

Of course, there are two songs on the CD that are in English (and understandable!), which are My Fate (a poem written by Abraham Crowley that is a gorgeous testiment to love) and my personal favourite faire song, A Health to the Company, done in the most beatific arrangement I've ever experienced. And Phyfe adds a chorus of his own at the end. Beware: this one will get stuck in your head and you will be humming and singing it for days after you've listened to it.

I honestly can't think of one song on here that I wouldn't (and haven't) listen to over and over again. This CD is firmly in the player on my laptop and it's not likely to leave anytime soon. That is unless I get my hands on Owain Phyfe's Odyssey recording...

EDITOR'S NOTE: The kindly and ever-so-helpful James from Orckes & Trolles sent me an e-mail setting me straight on a few things. Since he's got the brain that makes most hide in fear, I won't even try to reword it:

"About "La Prima Vez": the language is Ladino. Ladino is to Renaissance era Spanish what Yiddish is to medieval German; it was the language of the Sephardiim (the Jewish people who lived on the Iverian peninsula up through 1492, when Ferdinand and Isabella, flushed with victory after kicking out the Arabs, decided to order the Jews to either convert or get the heck out of Spain). Just to give you an example:

La prima vez que te vidi
De tus ojos me enamori...

is in modern Spanish.

La primera vez que te vi
De tus ojos me enamore'

(both meaning, of course, "The first time I saw you I fell in love with your eyes.")

BTW, "Worldes Blis" is in Middle English, not in Old English--if it were in Old English, it would be even less understandable to modern audiences than it is. It's pretty easy to tell that "Worldes blis ne last" means "[the] world's bliss doesn't last"; the "periphrastic 'do'" is a
relatively late Modern English addition, so the earlier "the world's bliss lasts not" would be the way to say it more forsoothly. :-)"

So, my apologies for my errors. I am merely an admirer of the sounds, but I do so love to be corrected by James. He has a way of doing it that makes it feel more like a lesson than a correction. Ahh, the handsome and intelligent ones are always taken, no?


Songlist:

  • Special Province — an introduction spoken by Owain Phyfe
  • Ja Nus Hons Pris — written in the 12th century by Richard the Lion Hearted (French lyrics)
  • Fa La La Lan — written in the 15th century (Spanish lyrics)
  • Worldes Blis — written in the 13th century (Olde English lyrics)
  • El Rey De Francia — a traditional Sephardic piece
  • L'Amor Dona Ch'io Te Porto — written in the 16th century (Italian lyrics)
  • O Che Diletto — written in the 16th century (Italian lyrics)
  • My Fate — written in the 17th century (English lyrics) <I only wish a man would sing me such a song!>
  • Pucelete — written in the 13th century (French lyrics)
  • Una Matika — another traditional Sephardic piece
  • Mes Pas Semez — written in the 16th century (French lyrics)
  • Alle, Psallite Cum Luya — written in 13th century (Latin lyrics)
  • A Health to the Company — traditional Irish piece (English lyrics)


To find out more about Owain Phyfe or to find out where he'll be performing next, see OwainPhyfe.com, a site run by his fans.

To purchase any Owain Phyfe, New World Renaissance Band or Cantiga recording, see the site for Owan's company, Nightwatch Recording.

 

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