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Celtic Myths & Legends (CD) - Claire Hamilton

Celtic Myths & Legends (CD) - Claire Hamilton

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An original and compelling retelling of some of the wonderful stories by an accomplished mistress of the bardic art.

The words of Professor Ronald Hutton, professor of History at The University of Bristol, provide fitting testimony to the spoken word and musical skills of Claire Hamilton. "With a unique voice and superb narrative, Claire captures the very essence of these ancient tales from Celtic tradition: fantastical stories to fire the imagination and warm the heart."

Accompanied by the beautiful sound of the Celtic Harp, these are stories that will appeal to child and adult alike: a spellbinding and evocative combination of words and music.

Read a tribute to Claire Hamilton by Philip Carr-Gomm here

The stories on the disc are:

The Three Noble Strains - This Irish myth tells of the faerie people who came in a mist to the west coast of Ireland. They were so highly skilled artistically that they were regarded as magically gifted. Their music was divided into three powerful Strains or moods (modes), each of which had an irresistible effect on the listener. These were the goltrai, the bitter mode, the gantrai, the joy mode and the suantrai, the sleep mode. One story relates how the great god, the Dagda, overcame his enemy by playing these modes on his harp and throwing them into uncontrollable states of emotion. Although these modes belong to the Irish tradition, similar modes were used in Wales. A mediaeval manuscript (Penllyn) of ancient Welsh harp music contains early bardic melodies, one of which uses the bragod-gywair or bitter-sweet mode. The insistent and unfamiliar harmonies of this music make it one of the strangest and most poignant pieces ever heard.

The Lady of Llyn y Fan Fach - This Welsh legend is set in the area around the Black Mountain in Mid Wales. Llyn y Fan Fach, means Lake of the Little Peak . This is a curious seal-shaped basin of water set high up in the Black Mountain beneath an overhanging peak of rock. Although now a reservoir, the lake has not lost its strange atmosphere. The tale of the lady who appeared from the lake was very popular and in the nineteenth century crowds gathered annually at the lakeside in the hope of seeing the waters boil and the Lady appear. The lady gives birth to three magical sons, later known as the Three Physicians of Myddfai. These are, in fact, historical figures, and their descendants practised medicine in the Myddfai area, using herbal remedies for all kinds of ailments. A manuscript of these remedies is held in the British Museum. Recently the National Botanic Garden of Wales constructed a Physic Garden incorporating herbs once used by them.

Sir Gawain and the Lady Ragnell - Originally an early Irish story, this tale became well-known in mediaeval times where it fitted well with the new Arthurian romantic and chivalric ideal. At the heart of it lies the intriguing question: What is it that women desire most in all the world? Arthur will lose his head if he does not find the correct answer! With such a big question at its core and with Gawain as the hero of the tale, it is not surprising that it became so popular. Famously, Chaucer used it as the Wife of Bath s story in his Canterbury Tales.

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