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Ships Ahoy! - Songs of Wind, Water and Tide
Quadriga Consort/Nikolaus Newerkla
rec. Schwarzenberg, Angelika-Kauffmann-Saal, Austria. January 2010
ALPHA 529 [70.21]

Ships Ahoy!, which bears the subtitle Songs of Wind, Water and Tide, is a nicely produced disc, with an all-in-one disc cover, sleeve and notes. It features the Quadriga Consort – an ensemble known for new arrangements of early, traditional and popular music from Britain on renaissance and baroque instruments. The notes explain the fascination that the sea, and particularly the British Coast as an especially rich source for sea songs, holds for Nikolaus Newerkla - arranger of the works presented here, and director of the Consort. Interesting and appropriate illustrations and maps are included in the notes, along with evocative session photographs, enhancing these even further.

The disc contains early sea songs and shanties as well as songs about mermaids and shipwrecks and love songs, which are combined with jigs and reels, interspersing lively instrumental episodes with vocal items, thus keeping the listener’s attention with its variety. It opens with the haunting ran na Maighdinn Mhara (three traditional tunes from Scotland, England and Ireland), and goes on to The Coasts of High Barbary – this track, a combination of traditional song and more jazzy and syncopated folk music, is highly effective. It is superbly performed and with Elisabeth Kaplan’s voice very appropriate for this type of music.

Some of the songs and instrumental episodes have an almost Moorish flavour (such as Captain James); an element which adds to the already rich musical mixture. The Saucy Sailor is one of the better-known tunes featured here, and this version incorporates strong Spanish flamenco rhythms, along with an appropriate style of singing from Kaplan, and is brilliantly done. Some of the songs are also sung in traditional Gaelic and Irish – another nice touch.

On the whole, this is an evocative, well-chosen programme, with good arrangements and well-considered instrumentation. A superbly executed disc as a whole, and one that I thoroughly enjoyed listening to and will revisit often.

Em Marshall-Luck

Track listing
1. ran na Maighdinn Mhara (The Mermaid's Song) / The Ship in Distress / Ships are Sailing [5.48]
2. The Coasts of High Barbary [3.03]
3. Boyne Water / Morrison's Jig [3.18]
4. Pulling the Sea-Dulse [4.27]
5. Twa Bonnie Maidens [3.48]
6. The Banks of Ireland / The Forfeit of the Ship / Sailor's Jacket / Fishing for Eels [4.01]
7. The Fish of the Sea [3.19]
8. Captain James [2.13]
9. Fair Susan [6.41]
10. Captain Magan [5.29]
11. The Sailor Laddie [1.10]
12. Ailein duinn (Brown-haired AlIen) [4.55]
13. Dinny Delaney [1.41]
14. Kitty Magennis [1.45]
15. An t-Oilean r [4.28]
16. The Greenland Whale Fishery [4.43]
17. The Saucy Sailor [3.56]
18. Cutting the Kelp [1.37]
19. The Cliffs of Doneen [3.29]