Link to Living Tradition Homepage





CONOR CALDWELL - To Belfast ... 

CONOR CALDWELL - To Belfast ... 
Private Label CC01

Just under half an hour of new and old music celebrating Conor Caldwell's home town, this album harks back to 1792 when Edward Bunting began to notate the music of the old Irish harpers, and brings their melodies up to date with modern techniques and freshly composed pieces. Fiddler Conor Caldwell is assisted by the technical wizardry of Kevin McCullagh who turns the fiddle into a small orchestra and electronica band by turns. Eibhlín a'Ruin and Let Erin Remember become contemporary anthems. Endearing Young Charms is more of a Dublin song, and is paired here with two grand old piping slip-jigs, Conor's fiddle providing convincing drones and crans. The next two tracks are based on Bunting's notebooks, and although there are the bones of a Breton march in the middle, the rest is unfamiliar to me: the Prelude notated from the playing of a nonagenarian harper has produced a creative showpiece.

The Carolan composition Mabla Sheimh Ní Cheallaigh is not often played, and this fiddle version brings out some features which make the connection between harp and pipe music quite clear: the sustained notes of the fiddle are again reminiscent of the piping style. The last three pieces on this CD are new creations: the sampled soundscape A Walk In The Park, a pizzicato musing on disparaging comments by a 12th century Welsh monk, and a narrative by American poet Tess Taylor set to a fiddle score evoking Bunting's old harpers as well as the unknown future of Irish music. The whole album is an experiment, a venture, and it's full of new ideas and effects. Caldwell may have earned a place in the chain of pioneers from Carolan to Bunting to Tommy Potts to Eithne Ní Uillacháin, whose son Donal plays piano here. Only time will tell, but we can enjoy this music in any case. 

Alex Monaghan

Secure On-line mailorder service
Many CDs we review are available from The Listening Post.
Check to see if this CD is available.

The Listening Post is the CD mailorder service of The Living Tradition magazine.
This album was reviewed in Issue 125 of The Living Tradition magazine.