Collections of significance-O'Neill, Petrie et al - have provided much of the repertoire of Irish music as we know it today, transforming our cultural landscape in the process, and underscoring the importance of transmission as a means of extending said landscape. To these well established sources must now be added this snapshot of a wonderful kaleidoscope of tunes, as varied in origin as they are in tempi. In the hands of Messrs McGuire and Lee. and their small but select group of musical friends-for mere acquaintances could not play with such conviction-new wine is poured from old vessels with liberality, enthralling the listener at every turn.
The album opens with Planxty no, 12, reputed to be a lost O'Carolan piece. Full of brio, harp from Florian Blancke, fiddle, viola and flute combine with Gary O'Briain's battery of strings and keyboards to create a quietly lush sound which is sustained throughout. As the album progresses, one begins to get a sense of the magnitude of this project-more than 1, 00 tunes over 12 manuscripts from a variety of sources as diverse as links to Italian opera and Scottish composers. !There may well be strong case made for a couple more albums from such a vigourous collection.
There is an easy fluency in evidence here throughout, nowhere moreso than on selections such as the Gladstone's Bill set of reels where the sibling interplay between Seamus and Manus McGuire , with flute , piano, mandocello, and guitar also thrown into the mix , is exemplary. With each of many listens to the album, it begins to reveal itself as a thing of multi-layered delights, each note intuited with great affection for its varietal sources.
Strong mention also should be made of the notes accompanying the selections, and the research undertaken by Fr. John Quinn, Conor Ward, and Jackie Small to flesh out the bones which serves to add an absorbing dimension to proceedings. With this album, all involved have given us a beautifully played and produced work of major significance. Listen, and be totally enraptured.
Oliver P Sweeney
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