Toss the Feathers
All traditional tunes, arranged by Paul Honey & Dermot Crehan
Lough Erne's Shore
Domh Do Laimh
The Lark In The Morning/The Cliffs Of Moher
You AtThe Rock?
Rose In The Heather/The Pipe On The Hob
Death Of Staker Wallace
Dermot Crehan (violin), Luke Daniels (Button Accordion), Mick Sands
(voice), Fiona Kelly (flute, whistles), Jean Kelly (harp), RTE Concert
rec. July 2007, RTE Studio 1, Dublin
RTE LYRIC FM TESS RECORDS TR0901 [54:20]
This disc of Irish folk tunes arranged for traditional solo
instruments and orchestra by Dermot Crehan and Paul Honey is
given an exhilarating opening with the eponymous Toss the
Feathers. The folk-songs have been arranged with Einaudi-like
piano accompaniment, enhanced bass lines and soaring backing
strings. The resulting sound is rather like one of those ultra-accessible
contemporary compositions so beloved of Classic FM. Such orchestration
is very effective in the opening, purely instrumental, track,
but I felt that it rather detracts from Mick Sands’s appropriately
characterful voice in the ensuing Lough Erne’s Shore.
Even the violin solo in the Drunken Gauger (played excellently
by Dermot Crehan himself) loses something, I feel, to the surrounding
orchestral backing. The gentle Tabhair Domh Do Laimh
(Give me your Hand) comes across as quite new-agey, but
nevertheless works fairly well, and the following Lenney’s
Reel is also excellent. It opens with jagged strings that
swiftly build up tension and an undercurrent of menace, leading
to a dramatic moment when the solo violin finally enters with
the reel. The rendition here of The wild geese is atmospheric,
and The Lark in the Morning/The Cliffs of Moher
(the only other item featuring voice) is radiantly performed,
while The rose in the heather is one of the more exciting
tracks, with slightly jazzy inflections, resulting in quite
a snazzy number that certainly blurs the boundaries between
art-forms – great fun!
I found the audible breathing in the penultimate track Montague
Mason’s (especially at the end) a little distracting – other
listeners may feel, however, that it adds to the authenticity
of the performances and recording.
The disc concludes with The Death of Staker Wallace,
with its haunting violin line, and atmospheric harp (played
by Jean Kelly) alternating with button accordion (Luke Daniels)
contributing to the traditional element of the piece.
Altogether I found this a rather mixed disc – some of the orchestrations
work very well indeed, whilst at other times I found that they
detracted, and would really rather have heard the original folk
tunes performed traditionally and without the extra trappings
that are wont to obscure the beauty of the simple melodies.
All the works, however, are well performed by the soloists and
the RTE Concert Orchestra conducted by Gearoid Grant. This is,
at the very least, a pleasant and entertaining listen although
more detailed notes than the few very basic pages we are presented
with here would be desirable!
See also review by Rob