Breathy flute and classically-tinged guitar are the hallmarks of this
arrangement of a traditional Irish lullaby. The result is more a contemporary
reflective piece than traditional celtic. Guitarist Coulter, a member of the
celtic/New Age group Orison is joined by Lars Johannesson on flute.
This is another slow, sonorous piece, whose lyrical flow manages to both
capture the nuances of celtic slow airs and reflect modern styles of
arrangement. Brussels-based Orion is composed of both Breton and Belgian
musicians, most notably the great Breton guitarist, Soig Siberíl and
Gwenaël Micault, composer of this piece.
The Lone Harper
The reflective mood continues with a simple harp solo composed and played by
Lucy MacNeil, a member of this family group from Cape Breton Island in
Canada, a stronghold of Scottish music and culture.
The Barra MacNeils
Time to liven up with a rousing Welsh song by this
quintet (the name means, and is pronouced, 'four in a bar').
The vocal harmony comes straight from the Welsh tradition and the arrangement
is reminiscent of some of the earlier Clannad albums.
4 yn y Bar
If Ever You Were Mine
Back to Cape Breton, and one of the finest exponents of its distinctive
fiddle-playing style. Her playing is rich and strong on this slow air,
though the backing, on guitar and keyboard, is a bit too lush for my taste.
The air is by Maurice Lennon of
This tune comes from one of the lesser-known outposts of celtic culture,
the Galicia region of Spain. Milladoiro
is the best known Galician celtic
group, and much of their playing sounds remarkably close to Irish traditional
music, though whether by imitation or origin, I don't know. This plaintive,
atmospheric arrangement of a traditional Galician tune is something else though
and hints at a quite different tradition of celtic music.
This spellbinding track alone is worth the cost of the album. It's simple,
traditional, yet startlingly new, a waulking song from the Shetlands rendered
in four voices, with harp, accordion and guitar, blending in a magical and
exhilarating harmony; the closest I've heard to this is the memorable duo of
Máire and Eithne (Enya) Ní Bhraonáin
on Clannad's album Fuaim (which funnily enough also has a version of this
The Swans of Coole
This slow, melancholy air laments the legendary children
of Lir, who were transformed to swans by their jealous stepmother. The tune was
written by Máire herself, inspired by a flock of swans at Coole, Co. Sligo.
Maighread is the sister of Tríona and Micheál, of multitudinous fame
(Bothy Band, Relativity, Nightnoise, Skara Brae), who accompany her here on guitar
and synthesizer. This song, which she learned from her father, tells the story of a
young man asking a girl for a kiss, and her rejection of him.
Jackson is a founder of Ossian, one of the most popular traditional Scottish
groups of its day. Now he concertrates on orchestral suites based on celtic
themes. This is an excerpt from a live recording of his suite in honour of
St. Mungo, the patron saint of Glasgow. His own harping carries the main tune,
backed by a small orchestra, similar to some of the work by Shaun Davey and
This duo featured on Celtic Odyssey are back with another memoarable instrumental,
again composed by Whelan, and played on fiddle and accordion, with backing from
Mark Sinos on piano and Tríona Ní Dhomhnaill. Until hearing this piece,
I never thought that fiddle and accordion could blend so well together.
John Whelan & Eileen Ivers
Justifiably lauded as one of the best traditional groups playing today, this
track from their latest album "Island Angel" shows off the clear voice of
Mairéad Ní Mhaonaigh singing a childrens song about
the gathering of seaweed.
After playing it dozens of times, this song still sends a shiver down my spine.
a young new traditional group from the North of Ireland; here Mary Dillon sings a
melancholy and heart-piercing song lamenting the defeat of the Jacobite rebellion at
the battle of Culloden.
Sí Beag, Sí Mór
If Déanta gives you the chills, Deiseal will send them packing with this
joyful celebration of one of Carolan's best-known pieces. Cormac Breathnach's low
whistle playing is pure liquid, over a jazz-tinged double bass and guitar line.
Une chanson à la mariée
Proving that there is more to Breton harping than Alan Stivell, the
classically-trained Bouchard plays a gentle and evocative piece that is both
identifiably celtic as well as uniquely Breton.
Dominig Bouchaud & Cyrille Colas
Théid mi Dhachaigh
Coming the full circle, the album closes with another lullaby.
Talitha McKenzie grew up in New York, taught herself Scots Gaelic, and eventually
moved to Scotland, where she formed the influential group Mouth Music,
specialising in the traditional puirt a beul Gaelic songs. Here she
sings solo in Gaelic, backed by Alasdair McLeod on clarsach (Scottish harp).
These albums should be widely available in record stores in North America (try under New Age
if you don't see anything in Celtic). If you need more info, or can't find them locally, give
Narada a call at 1-800-966-3699. You can also contact Narada by email to
firstname.lastname@example.org. In Europe, Narada can be
reached at PO Box 2301, 1200 CH Hilversum, Netherlands.
You can also order online, at a discount price from
To the Narada page.
To the Ceolas home page.
Gerard Manning email@example.com