Kitty in The Lane & The Floggin’ Reel (Reels); Bundle and Go & The Frost is All Over (Jigs); Castle In the Air & The Japanese Hornpipe (Barndance & Hornpipe); O’Connor Donn’s, Francie Byrne’s & The Dogs Among the Bushes (Reels); The Long German & Francie Mooney’s German (Barndances); Heathery Jock, The Marquis of Huntly & The Wild Irishman (Highland & Reels); The Kilcar Mazurka (Mazurka); The Gravel Walks to Granie (Reel); An Mhallaidh Gharbh (Highland); Piosa Ceoil & Port (Set Piece & Jig); Con Cassidy’s (Jig); The Glenafton Hornpipe, Princess Beatrice & The Star of Munster (Hornpipes & Reel); Port na bPúcaí (Slow Air); All the Way to Galway, Agnes Campbell’s & Miss Cunningham’s (Highlands); Matt People’s & The Glen Road to Carrick (Reel).Blimey! This is just stunning! (sound clip - track 1) And, for once, the publicity blurb doesn't exaggerate:
Ciarán Ó Maonaigh and Aidan O'Donnell are two young fiddle players who hail from opposite ends of that most musical of counties, Donegal. Ciaran is from the Gaoth Dobhair gaeltacht in north Donegal while Aidan hails from Dunkineely in the south of the county. They are are rapidly forging a reputation for exhilarating and challenging music that draws on the rich heritage of their native place. Their music making is marked by an intricate and intelligent approach that still manages to maintain the element of fiery exhuberance that is the hallmark of traditional fiddle music from Donegal. This is traditional music for the 21st century - mindful of its origins but breathtakingly exciting in its ambition and delivery.Every word is true, and the music fairly crackles with energy. So much so that I'm loth to make my usual complaint about the tempi of the playing - and, to be fair, the barndances and highlands are taken at a fairly restrained pace. Best of all, there's not a guitar or bodhrán in sight - just two fiddles, very well played!
And it's not just the playing which pleases this particular listener - there's a fine selection of lovely tunes to be heard here: jigs, barndances, highlands, hornpipes, a slow air, a set piece, even a mazurca; and only six of the tracks include reels! It was also nice to find a crossover of tunes ... I don't play all that many Irish tunes, so I was surprised to find two titles here that I play myself. As it happens, their All the Way to Galway isn't the same as the All the Ways to Galway that I play, but we do both have the same Con Cassidy's Jig! (sound clip)
The booklet notes are brief but informative, telling not only from whom the tunes were learned but also where they originated ... and the tradition is still so alive in Donegal that these young musicians have actually played with some of their sources. Not, as too often is the case these days "Children learning from children" - to quote a good friend of mine.
If you enjoy the fiery Donegal fiddle styles of the Dohertys, the Ó Beirns and the Cassidys, you'll love this - if you enjoy great fiddle playing of any sort, you'll love this - if you enjoy Irish music at all, you'll love this. Distributed by Claddagh and available from all good record stores - do yourself a favour!
Rod Stradling - 12.6.08