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Private Label CM2013

Button box and uilleann pipes, a formidable combination, especially in these hands. Carberry and McGovern play old-style Irish music, teasing every nuance from the melody at a steady tempo, allowing the tunes to speak for themselves in a warm and expressive performance. Take the set dance The Blackbird: a grand old tune recorded many times, but usually either for dancing or as a virtuoso solo piece. Here it trots along at a relaxed pace, nicely swung without being savagely dotted, a gentle interpretation for a fireside session. Part of the reason for the soothing nature of this music is the unusually low pitch of the instruments here. Pádraig plays pipes in B, a full tone and a half below concert D. Peter's accordion has also been retuned, so that the left hand is more in harmony with the piper's accompaniment. Of course, on a B/C box the key of B is not a problem for the right hand.

True to their Longford and Leitrim roots, Carberry and McGovern have concentrated on music from the midlands of Ireland, from old recordings and manuscripts as well as newer sources. Many tunes here are in regional versions - Seamus Ennis' Lark in the Morning and Patsy Touhey's Rip The Calico are clear examples, but these settings of Moll Roe or The Morning Star are equally atypical. With duos and solos, reels and jigs, airs, hornpipes and set dances, marches and flings, this pair of master musicians keep things interesting without diluting the pure drop with anything less aged or intoxicating. Classics such as Strike The Gay Harp, Will You Come Down To Limerick and Bumper Squire Jones are artfully strung together. Big tunes like The Fourth Dragoon and The Strayaway Child are handled with aplomb, but there's still a spark of fun in The Merry Gardener or the pair of jaunty flings. More details are online at of course, an example of the growing trend of putting sleevenotes on the web rather than in the CD: check it out.

Alex Monaghan

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This album was reviewed in Issue 103 of The Living Tradition magazine.