Monday, November 25, 2013

Diane Edgecomb's In the Groves

In the Groves 

Stories performed by Diane Edgecomb, accompanied by harpist Margot Chamberlain.  Winner of a Parent’s Choice Silver Award! $17.00 (includes shipping and handling) from
Reviewed by Linda Goodman

            In the introduction to this charming yet haunting CD, we are told that trees are first and foremost teachers, and, if we listen closely, they will share their secrets.  While listening to this CD, one does indeed feel likes a confidant, hearing the secrets of the groves for the first time.

            The Dancing Spirit of the Birch, a Czech folktale, tells of a young girl who knows happiness, in spite of being poor and having to work all day spinning flax into thread. Who is the mysterious woman in white who seeks to draw the girl from her work for a day of dance and levity? Will the girl allow herself to be lured from the work that supports her hungry family?

            From Cornwall England, Three Green Ladies is a story centered on rituals related to trees, and three men whose late father taught them to honor those rituals. Only one brother heeds their father’s wisdom, however, leaving the other two to reap the consequences of their own selfish actions.

            Kansakura – Sacred Cherry Tree features a cherry tree so beautiful that a shrine to the God of Love is built near it. This story from Japan tells of a young girl who resents her father’s plan to marry her to someone she does not love. How will she extract herself from this arranged marriage when she finally meets her true love?

            Australian Aboriginals say that the land needs us as much as we need the land. One of the things it needs is to hear the old stories told in a sacred manner. The Voice of the Creator is just such a story; a tale of lazy humans who take the presence of the Creator for granted until it is too late. The Creator, however, is benevolent and cares enough for his people to send an emissary to lead them back to him, though not in the way you would imagine.

            Evergreen, from the Cherokee People, is a pourquoi tale that explains why some trees keep their green leaves all year long, while others lose theirs. It is a story about the rewards that follow steadfast endurance.

            Each song and story on this CD is thoroughly researched and expertly performed. Diane and her accompanist, harpist Margot Chamberlain, create sweet harmonies for songs from the Shaker, Russian, and Japanese traditions. Margot beautifully sings a Welch tune solo and underscores each story with traditional music from the cultures represented. Listeners will be captivated with the musical ebb and flow that Margot has created to follow Diane’s telling from tale to tale. The result is elegance so enchanting that it makes story magic.

            Diane’s skill at shifting from character to character within a tale is amazing. No blunt transitions here, only a subtle change of tone or pitch, or quickening of pace, is necessary to guide the audience from one character to the next.

            Story lovers on your Christmas list will cherish this CD as they listen to it again and again. Do not let its soothing tone fool you, however. For all its beauty, there is justice in the grove. Sometimes that justice is harshly dark; but Light lingers on the edge of the darkness, beckoning all to journey forward.


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