A beautiful meeting of two very different continents, and surprising connections.

 Label: Bendigedig
Time: 8 tracks /45 minutes

This beautiful release is based on the osprey’s annual migration between Wales and Senegal – these musicians’ homes – and also includes a piece about humans as slaves traded from Senegal.

This meeting of continents sees harpist Catrin Finch duet with kora player Seckou Keita for a feast of strings. This is their second collaboration and many of the pieces have developed organically from touring together.

Each musician brings discernible traits of their own culture. If the titles weren’t clues enough, the wonderful “Clarach” – remarkably evocative of the flying osprey – reveals Finch’s classical background and “Cofiwch Dryweryn” has a European chord pattern, while “Téranga-bah (Great Hospitality)” and “Yama Ba” both clearly sound West African pieces.

But there is a tremendous synergy here. Sometimes you have to listen very closely to tell where one begins and the other takes over. “Bach to Baisso” starts in Bach’s unmistakable style – the excerpt from Goldberg Variations almost sounds like it is being played on harpsichord – and then ends up with that rippling pattern so often found in kora playing. Both parts are classical within their own traditions.

On a piece that marks the year that the French began slave trading in Senegal, “1677,” Finch’s harp plays a riff over which Keita adds a complementary motif and solos. He also sings on a couple of tracks, adding some depth and extra atmosphere.

The more you play it, the more the melodies unfurl.

These are beautiful instruments, which often get used for relaxation, but while “Listen to the Grass Grow” and Clarach” are quite exquisite, this is no wallpaper music. This superb and intricate collection is waffle-free, and every track has a definite sense of purpose.

Derek Walker