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Chants From the Kingdom of Tonga *
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  • Musicologist and composer David Fanshawe has an ongoing love affair with the islands that make up Tonga, in the South Pacific. The majority of this CD is taken from field recordings he made in the region between 1978 and 1988, both music and song, some of it quite surprising, like the Jew's harp that features on "'Ute Mouth Harps of 'Eua" or the nose flute of "The Nobleman Ve'ehala." There's plenty of song, with beautiful, untutored harmonies, and they contrast mightily with the album's centerpiece, the Fanshaw-composed "Pacific Song: Chants from the Kingdom of Tonga," a three-part work first performed in 2007 that not only uses choirs and instruments, but also field recordings. It's carefully arranged, and often majestic, the movements linked by Western flute, but also drawing on native instruments like slit-log drums and conch shells. But it's really all about the voices, full, organized, more than the real thing. ~ Chris Nickson
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