Regarding the title; I came across reference to this quotation reading Arnold Toynbee’s books on history. It refers to England.
"We have stood alone in that which is called isolation—our splendid isolation, as one of our Colonial friends was good enough to call it."
- Sir William Edward Goschen, Speech at Lewes
32 years isolation
it was a great pleasure to meet Brendan Mc’Glinchey for the first time last month at Karen Ryan’s festival in Camden Town. He was delighted when we gave him a copy of our debut CD (launched there the following rainy night) which opens with this splendid reel of his _which he told us he composed in 1973
we hope he enjoys our ”slightly progressive” version of it …
How many years of Isolation?
It seems that Brendan McGlinchey composed this tune earlier than 1973, since it was recorded in Dec. 1972 by Kevin Burke on "Sweeney’s Dream"
I just read an interview with Brendan McGlinchy. The reel was composed while he was in Dublin, at a pub drinking coffee, stressed because a two week trip in Ireland had gone very badly…No one in the group was getting along and he was waiting for a plane to go home to London…So full of emotional enery that this haunting tune happened.
Direct From the Source
S:Live at the West London Folk Club 1973
Played by the composer…
Precedes the reel by playing it as a slow air. Doesn’t work for me, but I’ve always loved the reel.
Splendid Isolation, X:7
My transcription of the youtube version above. I have taken the liberty of expanding the A and B repeats to show Brendan’s ornamentation. In particular I note the ornaments in measures 4 & 5 of the B2, where he ends a musical phrase on an F, then rolls the F twice. On the face of it, it should be boring, but instead gives a growling feel that focuses attention there. I have never come across this ornament before, but now hear it in various places in his other tunes. My fingers were loath to perform this at speed without some attention and practice, but it is definitely worth adding to my repertoire.
The youtube also allows a glimpse of his bowing technique. Wow, such sound, lift and rhythm and he only uses the top third of his bow, and doesn’t look like he is working very hard at it either.
While I don’t particularly appreciate Brendan’s slow air version, the reel works for me both fast and even as a slow reel. The G dorian key lends just the right touch of melancholy and really appeals to me. Definitely a favorite.
Re: Splendid Isolation
Recent Comhaltas upload and note: "Recorded at the Cahir, Co. Tipperary Trad Fest on 17th September 2016, Kirsten Allstaff, Liscannor, Co. Clare (formerly Dundee, Scotland) on concert flute is joined by Michael Harty, Cahir, Co. Tipperary, also on concert flute and Yvonne Casey, Co. Clare on fiddle. They play two Reels “Paddy Fahy’s” and “Splendid isolation” (B. McGlinchey)."
BTW, and not entirely to the point, sorry, but a comment with regard to the historical origins of the phrase "Splendid Isolation", and the ironic use of the term every since (bearing in mind the first comment above, posted 12 years ago, and its possible relevance to the post-Brexit future Little England is attempting to drag Britain into),
The speech by Goschen (who was First Lord of The Admiralty at the time) was made at Lewes on February 26, 1896. However, the term was reputedly coined in January 1896 by a Canadian politician, George Eulas Foster, who indicated his approval for Britain’s minimal involvement in European affairs by saying, "In these somewhat troublesome days when the great Mother Empire stands splendidly isolated in Europe." That’s according to wikipedia, anyway, citing "Splendid Isolation? Britain and the Balance of Power 1874–1914", by John Charmley (1999).
For more ironic use of the term ‘splendid’, see "Splendid Isolation" by Warren Zevon (track 6, ‘Transverse City’, the seventh studio album by Zevon, released in October 1989).