GWEN MÀIRI – Mentro (Erwyd ER004)

MentroGwen Màiri is of Scottish/Welsh ancestry and, if you wish, you may explore the mysteries of Yr Hen Odledd for yourselves. Gwen is a tutor and author, singer and harpist and has performed with major orchestras as well as musicians in the Welsh tradition. Mentro is her first solo album, although solo is a relative term these days, and she is supported by our new favourite Welshman, Gwilym Bowen Rhys, on guitar, mandolin, fiddle and shruti and the dark tones of Jordan Price Willams’ cello.

Here we have traditional tunes and words, some original compositions and some poetry including a Welsh translation of ‘Rose Of Sharon’. Gwen opens with the traditional tune, ‘Yr Wylan Gefnddu’ followed by the first of the poems; ‘Tawelwch’ – quietness – written by Gwen’s mother, E Mary Jones. Gwen has written music for this and added the traditional ‘Si Hei Lwli’ to complete a beautiful piece. Next is ‘Rheged’, a tune which is so quintessentially Welsh you could tell that blindfolded. I’m still trying to decide why it is so but it is.

I’m guessing that the three pieces that make up ‘Y Dydd Drwy’r Ffenest’ are dance tunes – they sound good for dancing but the sleeve notes are not exhaustive. I’m amused that the title of the last of the three, ‘Llancesau Trefaldwyn’, is actually longer in English. ‘Rhosyn Saron’ is gorgeous, ‘Teifi’ anchors the music firmly in Wales and uses some notes that most harpers don’t get to. The third song is ‘Hwyr’, which has a hymn-like quality and after ‘Y Feillionen’ comes the fourth, ‘Y Deryn Pur’, a traditional lyric. Finally, Gwen takes a real solo with ‘Cyn Gwawr’.

I’ve said before that Welsh is a beautiful language for singing, even if I don’t have the knowing of it, and it is also a beautiful language for playing. Mentro is your proof.

Dai Jeffries

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‘Rhosyn Saron’ – official video: