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TOPETTE!! - Rhododendron 

TOPETTE!! - Rhododendron 
Private Label TPT003 

This is a very enjoyable offering, full of bounce and life, with a great variety of material and moods, performed by some excellent musicians at the top of their game. Two of the said musicians will be familiar to an English audience – neither Andy Cutting nor Barnaby Stradling need any introduction, and James Delarre has a lengthy pedigree as a collaborator with Cutting, Saul Rose et al. The French side of the ensemble is less familiar, but no less able, with Tania Buisse on bodhrán, and Julien Cartonnet adding bagpipes and banjo. This latter instrument provides the lead on some tracks – unusual for French music in my (limited) experience, but it works very well.

The music itself swoops seamlessly from French to English and back again, and the enthusiasm is palpable, the feet are tapping from the start. Moving from traditional to more recent compositions from band members and others, and from their own two countries through Poland and Galicia, there’s enough here to keep listeners happy, as well as dancers. The recording quality is good and, although the sleeve is very short on information, there is little else to criticise and, if you enjoy music from across the channel, you’ll like this.

For several years, I hosted a weekend of cider-making on our farm, with a strongly French flavour to the Saturday evening dance, and this is exactly the sort of band that would have made a fine impression.

John Waltham


This review appeared in Issue 131 of The Living Tradition magazine