The usual high standard of piping we’ve come to expect from O’Flynn; here he is joined by Steve Cooney, Arty McGlynn, Rod McVey,Sean Keane, Andy Irvine and Paul Brady. Some nice songs and a sprinkling of Galician tunes, accompanied by members of the group Milladoiro.
However ~ it all seems a bit thinned in this mix, in my opinion
Yes, but~ another one of those flights of fancy of Liam’s that I find to be a bit over blown and too fiddled with as far as accompaniment and the twiddlin’ of knobs by the techies. And, I’ll dare say it, it’s silly. The accompaniments tend to distract from the music, and while the piper is one I appreciate and generally enjoy, here it comes off a bit mushy and even cutesy, and not just because of everything else in the mix, and the knobs. It seems smarmy to me, if piping can be that way. For me, my ears, it’s just odd, silly, and, to me, somewhat dull, though a one contributing factor to that is without a doubt the processing…
In a sense the opening sentence from intro to the notes, by Seamus Heaney, nails in it ~
"There has always been a ‘classical’ quality about Liam O’Flynn’s playing ~ "
But,while on the whole I continue to appreciate and like Liam’s music making, this production I have little appreciation or patience for… The cover is an apt reflection of this - Liam’s glum photo-portrait with the background of a coastal sunset - that similarly this recording took itself too seriously, burdened in part with pretensions, pomp, and a dour seriousness. Though, as already said, that came across to me as silliness… No doubt some folks are fond of the over arranged / produced, just no one in this house…
Liam O’Flynn : Uilleann Pipes, Whistle
Steve Cooney : Guitar, Bass Guitar, Digeridoo
Arty McGlynn : Guitar
Rod McVey : Synthesizers, Hammond Organ, Harmonium
Noel Eccles : Percussion
Sean Keane : Fiddle
Rodrigo Romani : (Milladoiro) Harp
Xose V. Ferreirós : (Milladoiro) Gaita (Galician bagpipes), Tambourine, Oboe
Nando Casal : (Milladoiro) Gaita (Galician Bagpipes),Clarinet
Ciaran Mordaunt : Side Drums (Track 10)
Andy Irvine : Vocals, Mandolin
Paul Brady : Vocals, Mandolin, Piano
Produced by: Shaun Davey
Executive Producer: John Cook
Recording Engineer: Brian Masterson
Additional Engineering (Tracks 8 & 13): Pearce Dunne
Assistant Engineers: Conan Doyle, Rob Kirwin
Recorded at: Windmill Lane Studios, Dublin.
1. O’Farrell’s Welcome to Limerick
Also known by the Irish title "An Phis Fhliuch". This is a very old slip jig and an especially fine piping tune. The tune is played on the ‘flat’ set of pipes (Bb) and this, combined with the style of accompaniment which includes Steve Cooney on didgeridoo, underlines the inherent earthiness of the tune.
2. O’Rourke’s, The Merry Sisters, Colonel Fraser
These three reels take me back to my time as a pupil of Leo Rowsome. As well as being my first pipes teacher, Leo made my first ‘practice’ set of pipes and since then I have always played a Rowsome set of pipes. So in fact Leo has been literally part of my music-making from the beginning. I remember him with great affection and owe him a very great debt of gratitude.
3. Come with me over the Mountain, A Smile in the Dark
Here is a typically fine song from Andy Irvine, with Andy in especially good form. The jig "A Smile in the Dark" that follows the song was composed by Andy and it ‘fits’ the pipes very nicely.
4. Farewell To Govan
This tune was composed by Phil Cunningham as the theme for Bill Bryden’s Glasgow stage production of "The Big Picnic". It is one of several which Phil very kindly sent to me while I was preparing material for this album.
5. Joyce’s Tune
The original title of this tune is "An Speic Seoigheach". The meaning of the word Speic is obscure but apart from "Joyce’s Tune" the title has been translated as "The Cry of the Joyce" and also "The Joyce’s Country Greeting". The air was collected by Edward Bunting at Ballinrobe, County Mayo in 1792.
6. The Green Island, Spellan The Fiddler
These two hornpipes I will always associate with home and my parents, where I first heard them.
7. Foliada de Elviña
A ‘Foliada’ is a traditional Galician dance rhythm. This tune which comes from Elvina, originally an old Celtic town now on the outskirts of A Coruna, dates from around the beginning of the 20th Century.
8. Ag Taisteal NA Blárnan (Travelling Through Blarney)
Tradition has it that the great 18th century poet Eoghan Run O’Suilleabhan, was working as a spailpin ( migrant farm labourer) for a farmer near Blarney, Co. Cork. One day, on hearing the people of the house discussing poetry, he offered an opinion and was laughed at. To prove his point Eoghan composed the poem "Ag Taisteal NA Blarnan" with complex metric and rhyming patterns to fit the existing tune "Staca An Mharaidh". This is the tune we have here. The original title "Staca An Mhargaidh" ( The Market-place Idler) is not the most charming title for such a beautiful tune! I am very grateful to Eamonn Brophy for the background information to this tune.
9. The Rambler, The Aherlow Jig
These are two double jigs. The character of the first is ideally suited to the tin-whistle while the second is a natural piping tune.
10. The Smith’s a Gallant Fireman
This is a four part Scottish strathspey which Sean Keane introduced me to some years ago. The side drums are played by Ciaran Mordaunt and the effect I find very exciting indeed.
11. Romeo’s Exile
A Shaun Davey piece composed for the Royal Shakespere Company’s 1995 production of "Romeo and Juliet".
12. The Rocks of Bawn
The tune of this song is an old version which I heard Willie Clancy play many times. Paul Brady’s inimitable interpretation gives this song a new lease of life.
13. Cailín NA Gruaige Doinne (The Girl of the Brown Hair)
This version of the slow air I learnt of from the singing of the Brendan Begley from Baile Chnocain in Co. Kerry. The song tells of a young peasant farmer who falls in love with a beautiful girl whom he can never have.
14. (a) Teño UN Amor NA Montaña
This is a tune form a traditional Galician song, the title of which means "I have a Love in the Mountains".
14. (b) Alborada - Unha Noite no Santo Cristo
As with the Foliada, Alborada (meaning ‘Sunrise’) refers to a traditional Galician rhythm. Tunes of this name are traditionally performed on the mornings of Fiestas. The rest of the title translates as ‘One Night in Santo Cristo’, and the tune comes from the RIAS BAIXAS region of Galicia. These two tunes, along with Foliada de Elvina, come from the repertoire of Milladoiro.
There has always been a classical quality about Liam O’Flynn’s playing, a level, confident strength: you feel that he is unshakably part of a tradition. But there is something up and away about his style, a sheer delight in his own personal impulse. His great stature as a piper turns out to be one more instance of the truth of Oscar Wilde’s paradoxical law that in art the opposite is also true: in other words, behind these tunes you can hear freedom as well as discipline, elegy as well as elation, a longing for solitude as well as a love of the seisiun.
On the occasions when I have shared a programme with Liam, I have always felt strengthened by being within his piper’s field of force, in touch with a deeply intuitive and sympathetic nature. In fact, my sense of him is well summed up in a couple of lines form the poem which provides the title for this disc: He strikes me as one of those fulfilled spirits who have "gone alone into the island/ And brought back the whole thing". In The Given Note we hear a master at ease in his art, taking pleasure in the sheer act of music-making, on his own and with his peers. This is work that lifts the heart.
ON THIS THE 25th ANNIVERSARY OF HIS DEATH, THIS ALBUM IS DEDICATED TO LEO ROWSOME(1903-1970) WHOSE CONTRIBUTION TO IRISH TRADITIONAL MUSIC, AND TO THE UILLEANN PIPES IN PARTICULAR, IS INESTIMABLE.
Nicholas Carolan and Glenn Cumiskey of the Irish Traditional Music Archive, Mick O’Brien, Alan Froment, Eamonn Brophy, Michael Copeland, Martin Carrigan, Dr. Rionach ui Ogain of the Dept. of Irish Folklore U.C.D., and to Seamus Heaney for the kind words and another fine title.