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SEÁN Ó RIADA - Port Na b’Púcaí

SEÁN Ó RIADA - Port Na b’Púcaí
Gael Linn ORIADACD07

This is a major new album of previously unreleased material. It features Sean’s final concert in May 1971, five months before his untimely death at the age of 40. Other tracks are from March 1971 and 1966.

Sean was a storyteller in music giving a personal window between him and the listener. He was a man full of emotion, with a strong love for his vision of Ireland or Éiriú. This was a driving source for his composition of the music for the film Mise Éire. His vision was not just of the physical alone, but also the spiritual, the creative and the imaginative. The lands of Ireland are populated by the people of Fódhla – the creative realm of Éiriú. This album contains his personal favourites including Do Bhí Bean Uasal, based on the traditional tune, Carrickfergus, Carraig Dohn (Lament Of The Irish Maiden) and Sliabh Na mBan, as well as several airs which Sean himself first introduced to Irish audiences, including Aisling Gheal (Bright Vision), Cois An Ghaorrhaigh and Port Na bPúcaí (Tune Of The Fairies). His rendition of this is spellbinding – he calls it the most magical tune he knows. On hearing the air, Nobel Laureate Seamus Heaney was inspired to write his poem, The Given Note, in which the origins of the music captured the poet’s imagination:

So whether he calls it spirit music or not, I don’t care. He took it out of wind off mid Atlantic.”

There are also The Three Captains, The Garden Of Daisies and Colliers Reel, where Sean is joined by John Kelly (fiddle), Willie Clancy (pipes) and Tony MacMahon (accordion).

Tracks 14-24 are short pieces of patriotic music recorded for a commemorative 1916 album of words and songs. The final ‘bonus track’ Carthaigh Na gCeann relates an episode from Macroom’s history told in the seanchai style.

This remarkable album is an important contribution to the canon of recorded works of Ó Riada. He played a major role in the popularisation of Irish music in the 20th century. Through his film scores and with his group Ceoltoírí Chualann, he re-ignited the spirit of the nation. He weaves a magical spell with his arrangements of Irish airs played on piano and harpsichord.

Kathy & Bob Drage

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This album was reviewed in Issue 104 of The Living Tradition magazine.