Máire Ní Chathasaigh
& Chris Newman
|this page updated 11/06/09|
multi-faceted musical conversations add up to an exciting artistic departure for Chris and
Máire. From the purest well-spring of the Irish tradition come the 17th century solo harp Gol na mBan san Ár, the newly-discovered 18th century Hidden Pearl arranged for harp & string quartet and an elaborate set of jigs. Two of the four songs
are here recorded for the first time in these versions, one of them in the free-form,
uniquely Irish sean-nós style.
Guests: Nollaig Casey & Iain MacFarlane (fiddles), Simon Mayor (mandolin), Liz Hanks (cello), Roy Dodds (percussion)
scroll down for press reviews, tracklist
& catalogue details
With each outing they make, this pair continue to amaze and stun with their sparkling virtuosity and incredible tightness. Guest musicians include Máires sister Nollaig Casey on fiddle and Simon Mayor, who contributes a characteristically virtuosic solo in the swinging finale, on mandolin.
The album title perfectly sums up the way Máíres harp and Chris guitar interact with each other. Perhaps the most stunning example of this is the foot-tapping, bluegrass style Twinkle Little Star, which is guaranteed to bring some sunshine into your life.
As well as all these wonderful instrumental tracks, Máire also contributes several songs and her harp solo, Gol na mBan san Ár - an example of Irelands older harp music - has a spare, stark beauty about it, reminiscent of her performance of Carolans Farewell to Music. She plays with passion and admirable restraintjust listen to the bass notes of her Camac harp resonating boldly without interruption.
Dialogues is a rich and breathtaking album, in which the various styles and instruments discourse together with consummate ease, grace and joy.
Chris and Máire are off on another journey of musical discovery with this latest CD. Thirteen tracks of music and song with long-time collaborator (well, she is family) Nollaig Casey, fiddles, viola, backing vocals; Liz Hanks on cello, Roy Dodds, percussion; Ian MacFarlane, fiddle on track eight and the educated mandolin of Simon Mayor on track thirteen.
If I didnt like instrumental music this review might be a horse of a different colour, but I do, I love it, and this is its apogee. There are songs here also, sensibly scattered throughout the disk. The gaelic ones are helpfully translated in the sleeve notes, where there is help with pronunciation also. Máires voice is pure and light with a subtle vibrato that suits the Irish style of singing and is at its best when singing in Erse.The music is so perfectly played that a picky person might say that it could become sterile and mechanical but it doesnt, it exudes warmth, passion and pleasure. You might say that Chris tunes dont match up to the trad. arr. ones but they do, in fact a reviewer with more musical knowledge than I, might say that they will be gathered into the arms of the tradition without a second thought.
Máire is on a one-woman crusade to update the Irish harp from the twee to its rightful place as the instrument able to take on any musical task with guts and fire. When I listen to a new CD from the Newman/Ní Chathasaigh stable I expect, and get, fireworks from the harp. It is truly wonderful to hear its many facets as it is accompanied by all the other styles of strings strutting their stuff on this CD. Track eleven The Hidden Pearl is the perfect example with cello, harp, fiddle and viola not getting slushy or melodramatic. Although a slow piece it tries to climb out of the box, as the restraint it is played with barely holds back the passion.
||Chris and Máire have established
themselves as firm favourites on the folk circuit. So its not surprising that this
recording comes highly recommended. The first track opens uncharacteristically with the
sound of the fiddle (performed by Nollaig Casey - Máires sister). It catches you
unawares as it sounds like it could be a track from Lead the Knave by Nollaig and
Arty McGlynn. Ah, but this is just the set-up for Máires harp and soon we are
treated to the dazzling display of arranging that has become Chriss trademark. The
funky slip-jig Chestnut Tree leads into The Reel of Peace joined by
Stratocaster (is this beginning to sound familiar) but hang on, whats that
underpinning the last tune? A kind of
|Shreds and Patches||
Two of the folk scenes most respected musicians have put together a CD of what can only be described as beautiful music, if that is not too cheesy a phrase! A mixture of songs and tunes, all are played with wonderful control and really effective dynamics. No duff tracks here; its really a matter of picking out personal favourites, so pardon the subjectivity here are a few highlights for me: the playing on Colonel Robertson, clean, light and devastatingly accurate; Banana Yellow with a tune that does bring the sun out (well, it did when I was listening to it); Twinkle Little Star bringing back memories of Chris playing at the Ironbridge Bluegrass Festival a few years ago, and holding an audience spellbound with a series of staggering solos; Swinging the Lead with perfect swing guitar playing; the atmosphere created by the harp and whistle especially in Gol na mBan san Ár, and so on, for virtually the whole CD.
What really holds much of this CD together is the understated rhythm playing; tight, never overpowering but providing a perfect background to the tunes and songs at the front.
As you may have gathered, this is quality stuff. The range of material is excellent, with a really broad appeal.
Right, get the guitar out, relax and try to play like this ah yes, well time for a pint then.
beautifully produced, tight album that runs from harper Ní Chathasaighs own jigs
with sister Nollaigs fiddle and Newmans mandolin, to central American harp
brightness and slick bluegrass. Beeswing and Maid at the Spinning Wheel have
terrific articulation and ornament, and Gol na mBan san Ár achieves immense,
A virtuosic Latino Banana Yellow follows. Vocal Deirín
Dé is sweetly Christmassy and Clár Bog Déil & Cill Mhuire with
rich vibrato à la
mit augenzwinkernden Wendungen perfekt gespielt und glasklar gemixt.
judicious mix of lively dance tunes, lovely songs, classic Irish harp music, and general
purpose fun. Ní Chathasaigh, who invented the playing of Irish dance music on the harp,
is in fine form on a set of Irish jigs, a set of reels, a James Hill hornpipe, and a set
of Scottish pipe tunes. Her fine version of Gol na mBan san Ár uses the silences
between the notes to full effect and her singing in Irish is clear and strong as the wind.
Newman, one of the most versatile and just plain fun guitarists around, takes the lead on
tunes as diverse as Twinkle Little Star and a swingy original, Banana Yellow.
A very strong recording.
virtuoso guitar/harp duo test the limits of Irish music with touches of calypso, bluegrass
and 40s-style swing. Newmans hot guitar licks and Ní Chathasaighs bell-toned
harp are delights
|Tracklist||Three Piece Suite
(The Chestnut Tree/Ril an tSuaimhnis/The Copper Hills of Beara)
|The Beeswing Hornpipe|
|Deirín Dé/Midnight in Annemasse|
|Paddy Whack/Colonel Robertson's/The Maid at the Spinning Wheel|
|Gol na mBan san Ar|
|I love my love|
|Donald Maclean's Farewell to Oban/Duntroon Castle|
|An Clár Bog-Déil|
|Twinkle Little Star|
|The Hidden Pearl|
|Cnocáinin Aerach Chill Mhuire|
|Swinging the Lead|
|Catalogue details||Old Bridge Music OBMCD14, 2001|
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