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CLANNAD - Christ Church Cathedral

CLANNAD - Christ Church Cathedral
ARC Music EUCD2441

Following a recording career from 1973-1998, the uniquely distinctive Clannad effectively regrouped in 2007 for occasional concert and festival performances. This included appearing in 2011 over three consecutive nights at Christ Church Cathedral Dublin, resulting in this live recording of nearly 75 minutes of that event, issued with a live DVD and linked to an international tour (my local date option was missed, sadly, due to extreme weather!) and, some 40 years on now, collective writing towards a new release later this year.

Supplementing the original quintet family group (siblings Moya, Ciarán and Pól Brennan with uncles Noel and Pádraig Duggan) are guest musicians Máire Breatnach and Sinead Madden (violin/viola and backing vocals), Jane Hughes (cello), Robbie Harris (percussion) and Eamonn DeBarra (keyboards). Special guests include Brian Kennedy (singing on In A Lifetime) and group Anúna who add their delightful vocal riches to five tracks.

About half of the material comes from the group’s earlier (i.e. pre 1982) recordings (highlights of which were released on 1997’s An Diolaim) including a long and stirring version of the title track from 1976’s Dúlamán album. There are also familiar tracks from their later output (such as Magical Ring, Legend, Macalla and Banba) including a medley Robin Of Sherwood, the Theme From Harry’s Game and a hauntingly atmospheric rendition of Newgrange.

Richly recorded to studio quality with discreet audience presence, all those instantly recognisable elements are manifest - the magical musicality of their use of their native Gaelic language, the enchanting prism of Moya’s voice and their exquisite collective harmonies, the characteristic group interplay with that sound palette spanning from filigree twinkling harp to the warm undercurrent of that sonorously woody, occasionally burr edged, double bass.

Kevin T. Ward

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This album was reviewed in Issue 96 of The Living Tradition magazine.