Friday, July 7, 2017

Hearing Double - 1

This blog does tend to be a bit heavy on music these days, now that you mention it! Perhaps I will manage a bit more variety before too much more time has passed, but in the meantime, I wanted to catch up on a project that's been on my mind for quite some time. Some of the performances that have most delighted me over the last few years have been the work of duos. For the most part, I'm partial to small ensembles over large ones, preferring discrete threads of melody and countermelody to lush soundscapes; certainly two is the smallest of small ensembles! The next few posts, then, will feature recordings and videos of just two musicians at a time.

 Today's offering is a favorite of mine. "Fead an Iolair," or "The Eagle's Whistle," quickly became my go-to tune on both pipes and fiddle after I heard it in the video below. If somebody springs up with a demand, "Play us something," the first thing that pops into my head is usually this little march. There is something in me that revels in the repetition of the structure and of the notes--a complicated tune it is not, but I find it most delightful.

 All the more delightful, of course, as presented here by Caoimhín Ó Raghallaigh  and Dan Trueman. The video is a great addition since you can then see some details of the instruments they are playing. The "fiddles" are crosses between Scandinavian hardanger instruments, and the Baroque viola d' amore. So many sympathetic strings, that perhaps, on reflection, I should have counted this as a quartet, rather than a duo.

The voice of the hardanger d'amore has, to me, an exquisite icy quality, something akin to the first glimmer of dawn on a winter morning. Trueman and Ó Raghallaigh use it to excellent advantage on their album Laghdú, which might be an exercise in the claim, attributed to Mozart: "The music is not in the notes, but in the silence between." You can listen to the entire thing on Bandcamp, and, if you like, buy mp3's there. While the style is, in general much more experimental than what I'm used to, it stands as a spectacular reminder that non-traditional is not always equivalent to uncongenial in music. Or, to get straight to the point: I like this album.

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