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VARIOUS ARTISTS - Taisce Luachmhar (Valuable Treasure): The Piping Album 

VARIOUS ARTISTS - Taisce Luachmhar (Valuable Treasure): The Piping Album 
Na Píobairí Uilleann NPUCD024  

A companion album to the Taisce Luachmhar fiddle CD reviewed in the last issue, this wonderful archive material from the Irish piping tradition was recorded around 1949. Although the recording sessions attracted some of the most famous pipers of that period - Willie Clancy, Tommy Reck, Felix Doran, Leo Rowsome and Seamus Ennis - this music has not been readily available until now and is gathered here in a package which includes extensive notes. Recording techniques and appreciation of Irish music were both pretty advanced by the late 40s, and the recording engineer Bill Stapleton knew his business, so the quality of these tracks is surprisingly high. There are still some hints of issues which often affect old recordings of this type - aging performers, uncertain tune names and inexperienced accompaniment - but their impact is minimal on this CD.

Great pipers are joined by other notable musicians here - Clare fiddle and concertina ace John Kelly, and Dublin box-player Sonny Brogan among them - and there are a couple of cuts from Leo Rowsome's piping groups. Ennis also sings two songs, but the majority of this album is solo piping, accompanied or not, by some of the finest players from the Irish tradition. Kitty's Rambles from Ennis, Pigeon On The Gate pumped out powerfully by Doran, a pair of confusingly-named jigs sparklingly played by Rowsome, just the one track from Willie Clancy but it's a wild one, and Tommy Reck wraps things up with Hand Me Down The Tackle and the two reels that come after it. Four selections each from Seamus Ennis and Felix Doran, three from Tommy Reck, a lone contribution from Clancy and seven tracks featuring Leo Rowsome in various combinations: Taisce Luachmhar - The Piping Album is mainly reels and jigs with an occasional hornpipe or march, quite a treasure trove for piping enthusiasts.

Alex Monaghan


This review appeared in Issue 142 of The Living Tradition magazine