The 2001 album (their fifth together) from trail-blazing Irish harper Máire Ní Chathasaigh, Irish Traditional Musician of the Year 2001, and English virtuoso guitarist Chris Newman. Agallaimh means "discourses" or "dialogues" in Irish. These multi-lingual musical conversations represented an exciting artistic departure for Máire & Chris. From the purest well-spring of Irish music come the 17th century air Gol na mBan san Ár, an exemplar of the stark beauty of the ancient Irish harp tradition, the delightfully melodic newly-discovered 18th century Hidden Pearl arranged by Máire for harp and string quartet and an elaborate set of jigs. Two of the four songs are recorded here for the first time in these versions. One of them, the haunting An Clár Bog Déil, is sung in the free-form, uniquely Irish style of singing known as sean-nós. The Scottish tradition is represented by the dazzlingly virtuosic Beeswing Hornpipe and the driving Highland piping tunes Donald MacLean's Farewell to Oban & Duntroon Castle. From this traditional core, they explore new musical styles and approaches to arrangement. Three Piece Suite, composed by Máire in a traditional style, ends up with a slightly African sound. Other full band arrangements include the irresistably jaunty bluegrass tune Twinkle Little Star and Chris's two compositions, the jazzy Swinging the Lead and the effervescent, Caribbean-influenced Banana Yellow. Special guests: Máire's fiddle-playing sister Nollaig Casey, young Scottish fiddler Ian MacFarlane, mandolinist Simon Mayor, percussionist Roy Dodds and cellist Liz Hanks. REVIEW EXTRACTS... "Lively dance tunes, lovely songs, classic Irish harp music and general purpose fun. Máire, who invented the playing of Irish dance music on the harp, is in fine form and her singing is clear and strong as the wind. Chris is one of the most versatile and just plain fun guitarists around..." Dirty Linen (USA) "This virtuoso duo test the limits of Irish music with touches of calypso, bluegrass and 40s-style swing. Newman's hot guitar licks and Ní Chathasaigh's bell-toned harp are delights" Sing Out (USA) "Sparkling virtuosity and incredible tightness... a rich and breathtaking album" Taplas (Wales) "Perfectly played: exudes warmth, passion and pleasure. The apogee of instrumental music: truly wonderful" Tykes News (England) "Littered with gems: the playing is so good it should be outlawed!" Folk London (England) "Wie immer mit augenzwinkernden Wendungen perfekt gespielt und glasklar gemixt." - FOLKER (Germany) März/April, 2002 "Terrific: brilliant, beautiful, virtuosic ****" The Sunday Tribune (Ireland) BIOGRAPHY... 2008 marks the 20th anniversary of the partnership of England's premier flatpicking guitarist, Chris Newman, and brilliant, innovative harper Máire Ní Chathasaigh (pronounced Moira Nee Ha-ha-sig), Irish Traditional Musician of the Year 2001. Since their début at the 1987 Cambridge Folk Festival, they've toured twenty-one countries with their signature cocktail of dynamic Irish dance-music, moving airs, evocative songs and striking new compositions - spiced with shots of hot jazz and bluegrass as well as Chris's "subversively witty introductions". They released their sixth CD, FireWire, in 2007: "An eclecticism and spirit of adventure that is quite thrilling... Virtuoso playing... bewitching string fantasies and a wonderfully clear and expressive voice' The Times 'Maire Ni Chathasaigh is in a class of her own' The Guardian 'Takes one of the most effete instruments in traditional music by the scruff of the neck and breathes a fire into it's belly' The Irish Times "Brilliant, innovative harping and guitar-playing of astonishing virtuosity and versatility" Songlines "Dazzling virtuosity... Newman's guitar-playing is to be marvelled at... exquisitely delivered... delightful" The Daily Telegraph. It was Chicago-based Live Ireland's Album of the Year. This summer they came together with two of the most important names in Irish music, legendary guitarist Arty McGlynn (ex Van Morrison band, Planxty, Patrick Street, De Danann...) and Máire's sister, virtuoso fiddler Nollaig Casey (ex Planxty), to record a stunning new CD, Heartstring Sessions, which was released in time for an eighteen-date October tour of the UK and Ireland. The CD has just become available on CD Baby! Within the past couple of years Chris and Máire have performed in the USA, Germany, Italy, France, Switzerland, Austria, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Denmark, Holland, Belgium, Ireland and the UK; additionally, Máire gave a 16-date nationwide lecture tour of the USA in April 2006 and prestigious solo recitals at the 2007 European Harp Symposium and the 2005 World Harp Congress. Broadcasts included a November 2007 concert televised by the Irish-language TG4 TV, a Christmas 2005 concert in Brindisi, televised by Rai Uno, the Italian state broadcaster, and appearances on Lyric FM, Ireland's premier classical music station (for which Máire was Artist of the Week) and BBC Radio 4's Woman's Hour. They're featured on Irish rock legend Rory Gallagher's posthumous album Wheels within Wheels (BMG, 2003) and Polygram USA's major 1998 Celtic harp album and associated PBS TV special Celtic Harpestry. Máire is harp/voice soloist with the New English Chamber Orchestra and the Choir of New College Oxford on John Cameron's Missa Celtica (Erato Disques, Paris). The Goldcrest film Driftwood features her singing, and her harping and compositions feature with other Celtic music luminaries on Dan ar Braz's Gold Disc-awarded album Finisterres (Sony France). Máire is 'the greatest Celtic harper of our age' (Live Ireland), in 2001 receiving Irish music's most prestigious award, that of Traditional Musician of the Year - Gradam Cheoil TG4 - 'for the excellence and pioneering force of her music, the remarkable growth she has brought to the music of the harp and for the positive influence she has had on the young generation of harpers'. She began to play the harp at the age of eleven. A West Cork background steeped in the oral tradition led her, while still a teenager, to develop new techniques that made it possible for the first time to play traditional music on the harp in a stylistically accurate way. She won the All-Ireland and Pan-Celtic Harp Competitions several times and in 1985 recorded the first harp album ever to concentrate on traditional Irish dance music, The New-Strung Harp - 'an intensely passionate and intelligent record and a milestone in Irish harp music' (The Irish Examiner). Her approach has been profoundly influential wherever in the world lever harps are played - "a single-handed reinvention of the harp". Two volumes of her arrangements have been published: The Irish Harper Vols. I and II. She contributed two articles about the Irish harp and modes in Irish music to the Companion to Irish Traditional Music (Cork University Press) and is profiled in Celtic Women in Music (Quarry Books, Canada) 'Her work restores the harp to it's true voice.' (The Irish Times) Chris began to play guitar at the age of four and at fourteen played his first paid gig in a folk club. He dabbled in the jazz scene in his late teens, playing with and learning from people like Stephane Grappelli and Diz Disley and honing his skills as a gifted improviser. After a brief foray into the commercial world that resulted in a silver disc for producing The Oldest Swinger in Town, he resolved to concentrate on his first love - the acoustic guitar. In addition to his work with Máire, Chris toured until 1997 as a member of Boys of the Lough in North America, Sweden, Finland, Norway, Estonia, Denmark, China and Italy. A prolific composer, arranger and record producer, he has been principal guitar tutor for Newcastle University's Folk B.Mus. Degree course since it's inception. His book of guitar compositions and arrangements Adventures with a Flatpick was published in 2001. His 1998 solo CD Fretwork was "a stunning and stylistically-varied album, heaving with good tunes, from one of the UK's most staggering and influential acoustic guitarists" Folk Roots (UK) "Dazzling" Acoustic Guitar (USA) "Revered" Taplas (Wales) "Spectacular" Time Out (UK) "So moving... Technical brilliance and beauty that brings tears to one's eyes... " Irish Music Magazine (Ireland) "Did things I have never heard a harp do before... Astonishing... An extraordinary event" Classical Guitar Magazine (UK) "Their blinding technique, sizzling Irish reels and hot jazz improvisation brought an extended standing ovation... Newman has the great gift of being informative and hilarious simultaneously" The West Australian "This celebrated duo took the place by storm. Stately Carolan tunes, jazzy Django-ish numbers, dazzling Doc Watson style flat picking fliers, driving Irish dance tunes - this pair can nonchalantly do the lot. Guitar players applauded and went sadly home to burn their instruments!" The Belfast Telegraph (Ireland) "Their stagecraft was masterly and their introductions informative and funny" The Christchurch Press (New Zealand) "Their virtuosity leads them on... Máire chomps on the bit of the harp's respectability, playing storming jigs and reels... Music of fire and brilliance from the high-wire act in traditional music" The Irish Times (Ireland) "Virtuosic, fascinating, dramatic, original, inspired, gloriously adventurous, dazzling, brilliant, stunning, impassioned, electrifying, bewitching, moving, achingly beautiful, influential, revered, unique..." The Times, The Daily Telegraph, The Guardian, The Irish Times, The Scotsman, Folk Roots...
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