The Black Balloon
Transatlantic TRA355 (1979)
Album available as:-
(Shanachie Records CD 97009. Tab booklet included)
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collection of ayres, danceries, a pastoral fantasia, and an abstract
- Chip Renner (AMG)
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1. The Moon Shines Bright (3:54)
A traditional carol. After establishing the theme in sedate quarter notes
it launches into a set of variations in a typical Elizabethan manner,
moving into progressively more animated figurations in slightly altered
2. The English Dance (2:49)
A sprightly 13th century dance tune, probably played on the fiddle originally.
3. Bourrée I And II (2:19)
Two dance tunes from Nicolas Valet's book 'Le Secret Des Muses' of 1616.
Both employ virtually the same melodic material, the contrasting moods
arising from the tonal settings, minor in the first and major in the second.
4. Medley: The Mist Covered Mountains
Of Home (9:26)
An Irish air - John's superb guitar setting later becomes a sort of continuo
for a set of light variations by flute and electric guitar (Alan Stivell
also plays this air - LK) The Orphan /Tarboulton - two Irish dance tunes.
The first is a jig notable for the intriguing dips and turns in its rather
angular melodic lines, while the reel that follows it has quite different
soaring melodic curves.
5. The Pelican (7:02)
The less abstract of the two 'inventions', this very song-like tune is
beautifully proportioned and flows along smoothly in a way very reminiscent
of the Pentangle's folk-jazz fusions, and when the electric guitar enters
with a further heterophonic voice, of the pieces on 'Bert & John'.
The body of the piece explores a series of intricately florid variations
representing the folk-baroque style at its best.
6. The Black Balloon (11:38)
In this brilliant extended piece, the variations gradually depart more
and more from the starting point, led first by the guitar and then by
the flute, through a patchwork of textures which at their farthest point
from home change almost completely to jazz and then to rhythm 'n' blues.
Here though, we can keep our bearings through the brief echoes of the
original theme, which John injects into the guitar part. This rather breathtaking
musical adventure requires careful listening to appreciate its full depth.
Renbourn - Guitar
Tony Roberts - Flute
Stuart Gordon - Tabors