Soas : muller was a 2010 collaboration between 2 of Galicia's most illustrious female artists. Rosa Cedron was for the best part of a decade the vocalist with Luar na Lubre, while Cristina Pato earned the distinction of being the first female Gaitera to release a CD. More recently she has won plaudits playing for Yo Yo Ma's world music group. The 2 ladies (dressed to kill on the CD album cover!) are joined on some of the tracks by the Bratislava Symphony Orchestra.
Ridiculous as it sounds I would ideally need to give this release two reviews. It is essentially a set of classical versions of Galicia's best folk songs with some original instrumentals thrown in. Some of the music is stunningly beautiful (just listen to "Mirabella"!) Cedron has a gorgeous voice and is also a classically trained cellist. Pato's piano accompaniment could hardly be bettered, and she has written 3 short original interludes for solo piano and for cello and piano. The music is mainly slow and haunting and a million miles removed from Spanish MTV pop. Mostly it's the 2 girls doing their own thing, and it's almost as beautiful a set of songs as you could wish for. It's right up there with Rosa's solo CD "Entre Dous Mares" from 2007 which I've already given a 5-star review.
The problem I have is I've got all of the recordings by both artists, and they've already released most of these songs before! Some of the arrangements have hardly changed. Cedron sings "Heicho de Dar" for the third time (Luar na Lubre, solo and now duo) Pato recorded "Negro Caravel" years ago - with guest vocals by Cedron, and now they're doing it again. I'm sure I'm not the only fan who feels short changed. There are only 3 new songs (plus 3 short tunes) that they haven't recorded before.
So to newcomers this will sound a most beautiful album - "Pomba Dourada"," Os Teus Ollos", "Mais Amor" are superb songs and "Lagrima" is guaranteed to break the heart of anybody who hears it, but I have another couple of minor issues which prevent me from giving 5 stars. Pato's gaita solo in "Maria Solina" sounds heavy handed and her piano playing on this release is infinitely more impressive than what used be her primary instrument. The orchestral sound is too full, and takes away from the extremely intimate atmosphere of the rest of the album.
Overall I still prefer Cedron's solo offering, but if you like the idea of sampling music from the rich heritage of Galicia but you're not too keen on traditional sounds and instruments then you can hardly go wrong with this elegant creation.