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SILE DENVIR - Caithreim: Songs And Music From The Plays Of Patrick Pearse

SILE DENVIR - Caithreim: Songs And Music From The Plays Of Patrick Pearse
Clo Iar-Chonnacht CICD201

Sile Denvir’s stunning vocal performance is the outstanding feature of this beautiful album. Confident, clear and sensitive, her rich alto tones perfectly suit the timbre and strong melodies of its six songs. An accomplished performer, and academic, she also plays the clarsach, harmonium, violin and shruti box, and has selected and arranged the music.

Patrick Pearse, from whose plays the pieces are derived, was reputed to be tone-deaf! However, he is credited with several part-compositions, and he certainly recognised the fundamental importance of folk culture and song. This is reflected in tracks such as the soulful An Chaithreim with its echoes of ninth century poetry, and the traditional Draighnean Donn - one of the great Irish language love songs, it could be an incantation from 1000 years ago. Ding Dong Didero, a work-song but reminiscent of a lullaby, is equally old. Delicate clarsach play is a pleasure throughout, not least on the one instrumental track (S’Ambo Aera). Two tunes follow songs, and uilleann pipes, whistles and cello add to the tasteful accompaniment.

A booklet, including a bibliography, contains lyrics, although much of the text is in Irish Gaelic – like the songs themselves. However, unfamiliarity with the language in no way impairs the listening experience.

The resonance and ringing clarity of Sile Denvir’s voice gives the songs an anthemic quality, touching the heartstrings, and conjuring visions of the land and its ancient history. Although less than 30 minutes in duration, Caithreim is a lesson for all singers, and a joy to hear.

Jim McCourt

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This album was reviewed in Issue 115 of The Living Tradition magazine.