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FIANA NÍ CHONAILL - Dathanna An Cheoil

FIANA NÍ CHONAILL - Dathanna An Cheoil
Private Label FNCH001

This is an (almost) solo harp album by Fiana from Castleconnell in Co Limerick, a harpist with a thorough immersion in traditional Irish music. She is a product of several generations of musicians, and also a graduate of the music departments of the universities in Limerick and Newcastle. A multiple All-Ireland winner herself, it comes as no surprise that Fiana can handle the harp like a master, and this album showcases that mastery to great effect.

All bar three of the tunes here are traditional, and most are fairly commonly played in sessions in Ireland and other places Irish music is found. Good examples are jigs The Battering Ram and Helvic Head, reels The Boys Of Ballisodare and The Garavogue, O’Dwyer’s hornpipe and The March Of The Min Na Toitean Bull (who, it has to be said, is marching in the most well-behaved fashion here – he is normally slightly more boisterous). There are a couple of lesser-known O’Carolan tunes, and an interesting Seán Potts composition which translates well to the harp, Cuimhne An Phíobaire, written in memory of his grandfather. This piece in particular is full of feeling, communicated well by Fiana.

The harp is joined briefly by Alan Reid on bouzouki and Niall Carey on bodhrán, who play so subtly it would nearly be possible to miss them, however they do just enough to fulfill their purpose perfectly.

A fairly sedate album, one might be used to hearing some of these tunes played with slightly more attack. But that is no real criticism – this is beautiful playing from an expert artist.

Michael White

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This album was reviewed in Issue 122 of The Living Tradition magazine.