Hazel Grove by Sue Richards
reviewed by Adam Victor Christensen
Released by Maggie's Music
P.O.Box 4144, Annapolis MD 21403 Tel. (410) 268 - 3394
"And left beside the river's wave
Beneath the nine-tree'd hazel grove,
A gold-strung, silver harp to lave -
An aching world with song and love."
R.S. Gary "The Harp of the Boyne
Sue Richard's marvelous new CD is an invitation to join her and her talented friends in a delightful musical frolic through the "Hazel Grove." Gathering original compositions and traditional pieces from Ireland, Scotland and Wales, Sue and friends sew them together with flawless harping and ensemble playing. They end up with a warm and colorful quilt of music to spread out before us in an opening in the woods.
The range and versatility of the selections are matched by the creativity of her arrangements, with wonderful medleys like "Brian Boru/Halting March/The King of Laois" and "Leaving Port Askaig/Murray Shoolbraid of Saltspring/East Neuk of Fife/ Torryburn Lasses." The winsome sound of the button accordion on "The Musical Priest" and "The Emigrant's Farewell" and the elegiac harmonies of the viola da gamba and fiddle on "Bi Falbh o'n Uinneig" speak with a special grace to me. Sue's original "The Hazel Grove" is a highpoint in the collective oeuvre of "new" Celtic music: original music created by contemporary musicians within the heart and sonority of an elder tradition.
The quality of this recording, like all of Maggie's Music offerings of the past, is really the best there is: clean separation so thateach instrument is heard ... and enjoyed ... distinctly; a sense of ,"real" aural space without overbearing reverb or effects; and an even balance so that each instrumental voice has a complementary presence to the whole. All this guides us to a secure and relaxed frame of mind from which Sue's Celtic harp can take us where our hearts long to go.
Playing time: 55:23
Selections: 1) O'Farrell's Welcome to Limerick 2) The Musical Priest/Miss Ratray 3) Miss Murphy 4) Brian Boru /Halting March/ The King of Laois 5) Miss Abbott 6) Leaving Port Askaig/ Murray Shoolbraid of Saltspring / East Neuk of Fife 7) Da Day Dawn 8) The Emigrant's Farewell 9) Bi Falbh o'n Uinneig (Go from the Window)10) Morfa Rhuddlan (Rhuddlan Marsh) 11) Banjo Breakdown 12) Tip O'Neill/Washington Hornpipe 13 ) Miss Noble 14) Lament for Coire an Easa/The Hazel Grove
Originally published in the Folk Harp Journal
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