The film Dancing at Lughnasa stars Meryl Streep, Catherine McCormack,
Michael Gambon and Kathy Burke. Bill Whelans Celtic music for the film
is presented in nineteen tracks - all quite short.
There is little or no fast music. The music speaks of a continuum of reflection,
soft-curving landscape and a sense of sadness of past generations all presented
with simple and unspoilt beauty. The music deploys the oboe and cor anglais
prominently and effectively. It is all rather static with solo wind instruments
seemingly giving a voice to the serenade of the dreaming landscape. Influences
include Dvorák and perhaps a little Vaughan Williams. Strangely the
main theme reminded me of Basil Poledouriss headline theme for
Lonesome Dove! (tracks 6 and 8 for example). There is a great deal
of reflective music and very little variation. This is a weakness of the
score. It is concentrated in mood and quite lovely three or four tracks at
a time. It does not wear well however as sustained solo listening material.
In the last track  Dolores Keane self-absorbedly and touchingly sings
Bill Whelans arrangement of Yeats famous (and oft set) poem Down
By The Salley Gardens.
As with so much film music this will delight those looking for the gentlest
of relaxing background. It will also please those who wish a reminder of
the film. This disc is also for the followers of the impressive Nollaig Casey
(fiddle - Track 15 - 3:34 duration - the title track), the ubiquitous Davey
Spillane (pipes and low whistle - Track 15) and Bill Whelan (Track 13) himself
on drums and percussion. The dedicated follower of Irishry and Celtic fringe
will want this disc although its folk roots are none too obvious.
I hope to hear more from Bill Whelan. The craftsmanship and concentration
of this beautiful music is strongly in evidence. The problem is that alone
this shapely music is too much of a good thing. The total playing time is