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CAMERATA KILKENNY - The Piper And The Fairy Queen

CAMERATA KILKENNY - The Piper And The Fairy Queen

Experiments combining Irish pipes with classical music are usually a success, and this one is no exception. The uilleann pipes evolved in the 18th century and were quite suited to music written for the oboe and other instruments in the baroque era. Keyed wooden flutes were a mainstay of orchestras until the mid 19th century, and the pipes have much the same capabilities, so much of the classical repertoire before 1830 is within their grasp. But you knew that, having heard the likes of the late lamented Liam Óg O'Flynn and Chieftains’ piper Paddy Moloney lash into everything from Bach and Buxtehude to The Brendan Voyage.

This recording is a little different though. Camerata Kilkenny has hooked up with piper David Power, but they haven't let him loose on much of their music: instead they've added several traditional Irish pieces to their baroque repertoire played on period instruments. The pipes feature on the opening Sí Bheag, Sí Mhór, apparently Carolan's earliest composition, and on The Downfall Of Paris, but they don't get a look-in on the extended suites by Telemann and Purcell. There are piping solos on the airs An Droighneán Donn (The Brown Thorn), Garden Of Daisies, An Leanbh Sidhe (The Fairy Child), and the showpiece Fox Chase, but for the most part the folk and classical traditions are kept separate here. As well as the introductory Carolan piece, the two streams do join for a Handel Pifa and a medley of dances from Leclair's 1746 opera, Scylla Et Glaucus, but Purcell's Fairy Queen is devoid of pipes as far as I can tell, although its ending Chaconne is charming nonetheless. The final Carolan's Concerto sees Power and the Camerata members united for a final fling.

David's piping is polished throughout, and it's a shame this CD doesn't make more of it. The baroque suites are very enjoyable too, so perhaps this combination album will bring new music to both sides of what is still a divide.

Alex Monaghan

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This album was reviewed in Issue 125 of The Living Tradition magazine.