Last night we were treated to an unusual concert of choral and orchestral Basque music at the Putney School. In addition, there was a folk dance just before intermission, and the audience got to sing along at the end! The music is complicated in rhythm and harmonics, and lush, rich and dynamic. The group did a very credible job. This is certainly a type of music that is not played or sung much in the United States, so it was a very interesting evening.
Composers included J.C. Arriaga, who evidently was born exactly 50 years after Mozart, Jesus Guridi, and Lorenzo Ondarra. Amazon has recordings for Arriaga and Guridi.
Some general background and links (not all of which work) on Basque music can be found at Buber's Basque Page: Music. There I found the tune and words for one of the Christmas songs that was done last night - "Hator, Hator" or "Ator, Ator".
A link from Buber's takes one to a fascinating group, Xarnege, that plays the music that merges the music of Gascony and the Basque Country (click on the door to get into the web site). To get a flavor for their music go to the MP3 tab. I tried out the song titled Sorlekuaren minez which starts out with voice and a drone of some sort, and then ends with a perky dance tune. Their CD is titled Gaueko lan musika - Musica de contrabanda (Pyrene-2004).
Of a completely different nature is another link of Buber's to recordings that an American made in 1940 of songs sung by Basques living in California. These are now held by the Library of Congress and can be listened to on the internet. A search in Amazon for Basque music shows that there are also Alan Lomax recordings in Basque Country from the early 1950's - one is for Navarre and the another is for Biscay and Guipozca.