Music Webmaster Len Mullenger


Bill WHELAN Dancing at Lughnasa The Irish Film Orchestra coducted by Prionnsías O'Duinn SONY SK60585  


Crotchet (UK)

The film Dancing at Lughnasa stars Meryl Streep, Catherine McCormack, Michael Gambon and Kathy Burke. Bill Whelan’s 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 Poledouris’s 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 [19] Dolores Keane self-absorbedly and touchingly sings Bill Whelan’s 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 quite brief.


Robert Barnett


Robert Barnett

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