sequence of arrangements by Crehan and Honey has the Irish-Celtic
voice speaking over and through a yielding and responsive
orchestral fabric. Most of the tracks are instrumental – just
a handful with the sharkskin satin roughness of the voice
of Mick Sands. The dominant presence is the ‘speaking’ violin
of Dermot Crehan with its gamut of affect and passion. Flutes,
accordion and harp are there, right enough, but tactfully
supportive and not getting into Crehan’s limelight.
arrangements are tasteful, soft focus overall but not lacking
in a gutsy bass emphasis for the orchestral signature. You
can hear the punch in the orchestral sound in the title track
and in the Herrmann-like Atlantic threat of Lenney’s Reel
5). The arrangements are no strangers to the slurring curvature,
the lilt and swoon of the violin line which veers into the
dewy melancholy of the instrumental writing in Ken Burns’ Civil
War epic, the Ashokan Lament
and Chieftains’ heart-stopping Women
. You can hear this in Tabhair Domh Do Laimh
in many of the other tracks.
a single piece this may not be as striking as Granuaile
then again there is no real narrative just a confident, emotive
and well weighted sequence of arrangements. Where would be
without moist-eyed sentimentality in such music? It’s there
to be heard in The Wild Geese
with its tender loving-kindness.
There the emotionalism works like a dream. Only one track
seems to fall flat and that is The Rose in the Heather
there is clearly moonshine in the mash and the mix but it’s
just repetitive and lacking in intrinsic magnetism. OK, it’s
a bit Riverdance
at times but there is no harm in
that; none whatsoever. Indeed a number of the instrumentalists
here have been part of the Riverdance band.
detect other influences or at least similarities which may
also help some of you ‘place’ the music – the classical voices
of the British-Irish composer Patrick Hadley in his Symphonic-Ballad The
Trees So High
, RVW’s The Lark Ascending
and the work of French composer and folksong
arranger, Joseph Canteloube.
premiere was given at St Martin-In-The-Fields and has been
repeated there and at the Maidstone Proms In The Park and
at a concert for the Musicians’ Benevolent Fund at the Royal
final elegiac track, The Death of Staker Wallace
to show the well-placed confidence of the arranger-composers.
It ends on a breathing down-beat as the horns gently bell
and toll into silence. If we think of a pastoral lark it’s
an Irish one with a blessing in its wing-beat.