The most famous of the Irish harper-composers of his day, Carolan's music is the most popular ever composed for the harp in Ireland. It affords a great deal of scope to the creativity of the performer, since only Carolan's melodies survive. This recording consists of original arrangements of these beautiful tunes, informed by Máire's knowledge both of the native Irish harp tradition and of baroque forms. REVIEWS OF THE CAROLAN ALBUMS... The Daily Telegraph (UK) 'A masterpiece of virtuosity from Máire Ní Chathasaigh, a scholarly Irish harpist, in truly inspired union with Chris Newman, a quirky English master of the acoustic guitar... an enticing introduction to the elegant, Italian- influenced music of Turlough O' Carolan. This album is a must for any folk-related collection.' The Irish Times (Ireland) 'If Máire Ní Chathasaigh wasn't around, Irish harping would be so much the poorer... Her work, which goes beyond mere harp performance, could be described as an attempt to restore the harp to it's true voice... (Here) harp and guitar partner each other in arrangements which leave conventional accompaniment far behind in their precision and attention to the finest detail. Unfussy, with all the spaces left empty and resonating, the long arm of the music reaches back into a noble tradition." Taplas (Wales) "A cocktail to delight and intoxicate! Faultlessly played, with consummate skill and a perfect understanding of the grace and elegance of the music. Guitar complements harp beautifully, at times sounding almost harp-like... The arrangements for harp and guitar are carefully thought out and every piece is exquisitely executed, the instruments always in complete sympathy with one another... Particularly impressive is 'Máire Dhall', where the silences ring out as clearly as the notes... A little gem. Máire's playing is truly breathtaking. Her deep understanding of the music, combined with technical skill and passion mark her out as the foremost modern interpreter of Carolan." Folkwrite (UK) "A delight...The sheer excellence of the musicianship...sets standards which should be aspired to not only in this field but throughout folk music. The sleeve notes are of a comparable standard. Very strongly recommended." Folk NorthWest (UK) "No one else could have done justice to such a project." Folk on Tap (UK) 'A magnificent collection from two superlative musicians... In a plethora of Carolan records, this is the best." Tykes News (UK) "The playing of this duo exhibits a virtuosity and balance of expression combined with a simple elegance which has a reviewer running to the thesaurus in search of superlatives. Enchanting, expressive, a remarkable piece of work.' ABOUT THE ARTISTS... '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... Chris and Máire made their début as a duo at the 1987 Cambridge Folk Festival and since then have played in twenty-one countries - from Shetland to New Zealand and from San Francisco to Kyoto - and have given TV and radio performances on five continents. Within the past two years they've toured in the USA, Germany, Switzerland, Austria, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Italy, Denmark, Holland, Belgium, Ireland and the UK. They are celebrated for the "blazing guitar and dancing harp" (Dirty Linen) very much in evidence on their new CD FireWire. The Carolan Albums, however, highlights the more lyrical side of their repertoire and garnered some extraordinary reviews on it's release in 1994. Máire is 'one of the world's greatest harpists' (Edinburgh Evening News) and one of Ireland's most important and influential traditional musicians. As a teenager in the 1970s she invented a whole new style of harping that quickly became the norm amongst both her contemporaries and the younger generation of Irish players. In 2001 she received 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. Her background in a well-known West Cork musical family steeped in the oral Irish tradition was at that time unique among harpers, the Irish harp having declined since it's 17th century heyday into an urban parlour instrument alien to life in rural Ireland. Having no role models, she developed a variety of new techniques, particularly in relation to ornamentation, which made it possible for the first time to play this music on the harp in a stylistically accurate way - thus re-introducing the harp into the mainstream of the living tradition. 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 - 'a mile-stone in Irish harp music' (The Irish Examiner). Her approach has been profoundly influential wherever in the world the Irish harp is played - 'a single-handed reinvention of the harp'. 'Her work restores the harp to it's true voice.' The Irish Times Máire has published two volumes of harp arrangements, The Irish Harper Vols. I and II and contributed two articles about the Irish harp and modes in Irish music to the Companion to Irish Traditional Music (Cork University Press). She's profiled in several books devoted to Irish music, including Celtic Women in Music (Mairéad Sullivan, Quarry Music Books, Canada) and in the Rough Guide to Irish Music. Chris began to play guitar at the age of four and at fourteen gave his first paid concert 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). A foray into the commercial world resulted in a silver disc for producing The Oldest Swinger in Town. A prolific composer, arranger and record producer, he now concentrates on traditional music and composition. He has been principal guitar tutor for Newcastle University's Folk B.Mus 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) 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. Máire and Chris are featured on Celtic Harpestry, the major 1998 Polygram USA Celtic harp album and associated TV special, and on Bringing it All Back Home, the major BBC 2 TV series on Irish music. They're also featured on Irish rock legend Rory Gallagher's posthumous 2003 album on BMG, Wheels within Wheels. Máire is harp and voice soloist with the New English Chamber Orchestra and the Choir of New College Oxford on John Cameron's major work Missa Celtica, released by Erato Disques, Paris. The Goldcrest film Driftwood features her singing, and her harping and compositions feature with other luminaries of the Celtic music world on Dan ar Braz's Gold Disc-awarded album for Sony France Finisterres. Interviews with Chris and Maire appear in the current issues of Irish Music Magazine (Ireland) and fRoots (UK). REVIEWS OF THE ARTISTS' LIVE PERFORMANCES... 'This celebrated harp/guitar duo took the place by storm. Stately Carolan tunes, jazzy Django-ish numbers, Doc Watson style flat picking fliers, driving Irish dance tunes - this pair can nonchalantly do the lot. Their musicianship was enviable. Guitar players applauded and went sadly home to burn their instruments!' The Belfast Telegraph 'So moving, so wonderfully executed with such technical brilliance and beauty... that it brings tears to the eyes..." Irish Music Magazine 'Máire managed to do things I have never heard a harp do before... I was alternately astonished and delighted... The concert left a lasting impression on me and anyone else who was privileged to witness this extraordinary event.' Classical Guitar Magazine '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 'The audience were charmed and dazzled by their playing: the speed, the deftness, the emotional range...Máire's clear, warm and expressive voice...Their stagecraft was masterly and their introductions informative and funny' Christchurch Press (New Zealand) 'Music of fire and brilliance from the high-wire act in traditional music.' The Irish Times.
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