Lucky for us, in his latest project Jordi Savall shares his love for traditional Irish and Scottish music, music originally played on fiddle and/or harp and passed from generation to generation by oral (and aural) means. He uses three different treble viols (the earliest one, ca. 1500, identified as aRead more "treble fiddle") in various scordatura tunings to "sing" the melodies, occasionally joined by the improvised harp and psalterium accompaniments of Andrew Lawrence-King. These unusual tunings and the instruments' five- or six-string configurations obtain a uniquely vibrant sound (not to mention a range) that's more timbrally complex and to me more ear-friendly than produced by the traditional fiddles we usually hear in this music.
Of course, this also owes much to the playing of Savall, whose sensitivity to these 29 Celtic tunes is acute and obviously deeply felt. He finds all the sadness and tenderness one could hope for in the beautiful Scottish song "Hard is my Fate" and really digs into the double-stops of the Irish "Gusty's Frolics" while perfectly capturing the light dancing feel of tunes such as "Emigrants Reel" and "Trip it Upstairs". Lawrence-King is a masterful musical partner, offering delightful, colorful, and ever-so-complementary accompaniments.
The sound is near-ideal--I was sometimes distracted by Savall's intermittent low-frequency "vocalizations"--and the program notes are well worth reading, particularly for the interesting information regarding the origin or background of each tune. Typical of Savall's productions, the liner booklet includes beautiful reproductions of appropriate art works and photos of the instruments. Highly recommended!