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LIAM O'FLYNN - The Piper's Call

LIAM O'FLYNN - The Piper's Call
Tara Records TARADVD3037

This is a video version of Liam's 1998 CD. I was lucky enough to attend the CD launch in Dublin and a subsequent concert at the National Concert Hall, and I can tell you that this DVD gets as close to the heart of O'Flynn's music as any of us did at those performances. Filmed with the same musicians as the audio recording, and originally produced as a Hummingbird VHS video, it's a very welcome re-release. The camera techniques are a little dated by today's digital standards but the music is excellent and the visuals are clear and engaging. With a full range of imagery, from scenic shots of Irish landscapes to close-ups of piping fingers, this DVD holds the eye for well over an hour.

Probably the finest uilleann piper of his generation, and a founder member of Planxty, Liam O'Flynn has played with the best of Irish traditional musicians as well as classical orchestras and many other musical traditions. Here he is joined by Steve Cooney, Arty McGlynn, Rod McVey and Liam Bradley, as well as guests Seán Keane, Matt Molloy, Carlos Nuñez, Mark Knopfler and the Irish Chamber Orchestra. In addition to all the tracks from the Piper's Call CD, there is an introduction by Seamus Heaney and several interviews, plus a couple of bonus tunes from Liam.

Sparkling reels, jigs, hornpipes and slow airs are interspersed with a Scottish strathspey Miss Admiral Gordon's, a stunning pair of Galician muñeiras, a slightly dull Danish tune which wasn't on the CD and a couple of very tasteful orchestral arrangements. Micheal Ó Súilleabháin's 6-minute setting of Bean Dubh An Ghleanna is a clear highlight, a classic slow air which has been tackled by Liam, Matt and Seán in the past. I also particularly enjoyed the set of four reels which includes The Humours Of Carrigaholt, Mayor Harrison's Fedora and a couple of nameless beauties. O'Flynn's masterclass in Irish piping continues with The Gold Ring, a virtuoso 7-part jig on which Liam's playing sparkles and the fiddling of Seán Keane is simply dazzling. Nearly 50 minutes of music are followed by almost as much documentary footage, including O'Flynn's performances of The Butcher's March and Cath Céim An Fhia amongst other clips: fascinating talk and great playing.

Alex Monaghan

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This album was reviewed in Issue 107 of The Living Tradition magazine.