Celtic Heartland
by Ron Korb, classical (2000)
Humble Dragon, ISBN 3-8938-5942-X

Say what you will about how much Riverdance stinks, but I actually love that CD. Ron Korb, a flutist who has played on Riverdance, explores a more familiar Celtic fare after his forays into diverse world music. I like Celtic Heartland. Unlike the elevator music syndrome that plague most of the music of the new age genre, this one has punch.

Backed by cellist Caroline Lavelle and Teresa Heanue as well as the band that plays with Loreena McKennitt, Korb unleashes a colorful tapestry of music covering all possible moods. Harvest Jig like its namesake is perfect for good times and good fun and it challenges even the most complacent to tap feet along with the lively beat. Green Eyed Maiden is deceptively melancholic, but listen closer and I would find a darkly romantic piece that brings to mind the more bombastic poetry of Elgar.

The Noble Land is appropriate for beautiful princesses everywhere to sigh to as they lament for a Prince Charming, while Castle Moon is a beautiful showcase of how a flute and a cello can make most melodious music in a perfect duet. Korb also mixes Middle-Eastern strings into his music, resulting in a beautiful fusion of cultures in pieces like Medieval East (duh).

Celtic Heartland's greatest success is in its ability to draw me into the music. Instead of just being beautifully produced music tinkering in the background, each piece here draws me in with its masterfully evocative atmosphere. The flute, the cello, the piano, all seem to come alive to tell me romantic and gallant tales of pageantry and love in days of long ago. Heartbreak, love found, melancholy, wistfulness, joy, and rhythm - Celtic Heartland is a feast for the ears.

Rating: 88

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