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RYAN MOLLOY & FERGAL SCAHILL - One Day :: November Woods 

RYAN MOLLOY & FERGAL SCAHILL - One Day :: November Woods 
Private Label 

Towards the end of last year I had the pleasure of listening to composer and pianist Ryan Molloy’s album, Pianophony, after it came in for review. It was breathtaking; this man doesn’t just play the piano, he works magic with it. From luscious slow airs like The Wounded Huzzar to a set of cheeky little Hop Jigs, through some of the most exquisite songs sung by Shauna Mullin from Donegal, Ryan instinctively knows what each piece needs – always inventive and unerringly interesting, but never going too far in his quest for excellence. The album was an absolute winner.

Now comes another CD of his, this time with fiddler Fergal Scahill (of We Banjo 3 and A Tune A Day video fame). Fergal is a mighty fiddler; accurate, with a lovely bright tone, crunchy where it needs it, emotive and graceful at other times, and with triplets to die for. Together the pair tackles 11 sets of mostly traditional Irish material, some well-known, some less so, along with a handful of their own tunes and a couple of others. We start with a stately Behind The Bush In Park Anna, which moves into The Jolly Tinker and O’Mahoney’s, full of life and bounce with mesmerising (and never predictable) chord sequences, and more than a nod to jazz in the accompaniment in places. A set of two hornpipes (Murphy’s Hornpipe and The Showman’s Fancy) displays some incredible light movement from both the fiddle and piano, happy and fun, leading on to the beautiful elegance of July 28th, one of Ryan’s creations. The highlight for me, though, is probably a well-paced The Peacock’s Feather 1 & 2 followed by The Bucks Of Oranmore – good tunes given a new lease of life, and where the interplay between the instruments is most remarkable. Here, the tunes are never given the chance to be boring; The Bucks in particular is full of dirty tricks and smile-inducing turns – a magnificent set. The album finishes with a poignant Táimse ‘Im Chodladh, with haunting fiddle and shimmery piano. A masterpiece from start to finish.

Fiona Heywood


This review appeared in Issue 133 of The Living Tradition magazine