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Duw a Wyr

Artist: Huw Warren

Date of Release: 01/10/2005

Catalogue no: BDV 2558

Label: Babel

Price: £12

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Track Listing

No

 

Title

Duration

1

 

Ebeneser (Love Like The Oceans)

2

 

Durrow (Christ's Beauty)

3

 

In Y Glyn / Maracesh (In The Valley)

4

 

Gwahoddiad (An Invitation From Christ)

5

 

Bryniau Cassia (Hills Of Cassia)

6

 

Duw A Wyr (God Only Knows)

7

 

Pen Calfaria (On Calvary Ridge)

8

 

Henryd / Rhiwlas (A Prayer For God's Presence)

9

 

Mil Harddach (A Thousand Times More Beautiful)

 

 

 

 

Appearances by

Mark Lockheart

Huw Warren/Lleuwen Steffan
Duw A Wyr (God Only Knows)

The hymns of the Welsh religious revival are brought alive for the 21st century. Duw A Wyr (God Only Knows) brings together rising star vocalist Lleuwen Steffan with pianist Huw Warren and saxophonist Mark Lockheart in compelling new arrangements of some of the most beautiful Welsh hymns.

The project began when Lleuwen came across an old hymn book in her Nain's (grandmother's) attic and realised she had discovered a treasure trove. She was immediately captivated by passionate songs about grace kissing a guilty world, about forgiveness and about tears turning into a well of peace – and, of course, by their wonderful melodies. The album includes hymns written by Gwilym Hiraethog, Thomas John Williams, Ieuan Gwyllt, Ann Griffiths and others.

It was Oliver Weindling at The Babel Label who suggested she approach acclaimed Welsh pianist Huw Warren - winner of the award for Innovation at this year's BBC Jazz Awards - to collaborate on the project. The two musicians worked together in order to reinterpret the hymns and bring them into the 21 st century. The sound is completed on this album by saxophonist Mark Lockheart. Also included is ‘God Only Knows'; a duet between Huw Warren & Mark Lockheart written especially for the album.

When choosing the hymns, Lleuwen realised that she was particularly drawn to those that were popular during the Welsh 1904-05 religious revival. The movement began when Evan Roberts, originally a miner from South Wales , broke off from his theological studies after being inspired to spread the Word Of God. A follower of the Calvinistic Methodist tradition, Roberts was not a minister or a preacher, but thousands crowded into chapels across Wales to hear his words of inspiration. As a result of this religious revival Welsh hymns were brought to the masses.

Lleuwen hopes that this album will bring the hymns alive again and give the Welsh another reason to feel proud of their heritage and culture. “Some of these hymns have always been familiar to me,” says Lleuwen. “They are deeply engraved in my memory although I can't remember ever trying to learn them. They have always been there in my life like some old, distant relative. Recently though, it dawned on me that I had never really felt them. Sometimes, we fail to see the beauty in the faces of those closest to us. I think that's what has happened to the old Welsh hymns. All of life's mysteries are within these hymns.”

The accompanying sleeve notes include new translations of the hymns by Iwan Llwyd, a crowned bard of Wales .

 

Reviews

 

01/10/2005 John Lewis Time Out ****

"an exquisite little gem...(think a low key 'Oficium'). His [Warren's] unflashy piano comping reminds you of Keith Jarrett's modal meditations while Mark Lockheart's delicate sax intrusions are very Jan Garbarek. But the real star in this collaboration is singer Lleuwen Steffan, whose bleak, folksy voice suggests an ECM-reared Sinead O'Connor."

 

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