Launched during the 10th annual William Kennedy Piping Festival late last year this compilation of live recordings spanning the period from 1997 to 2001 offers a fulsome celebration of the festival’s importance and the many notable musicians it has attracted over the years. That being said, since the festival’s focus is resolutely the pipes and their different forms, this is also very much an international album featuring musicians not only from Ireland, but also from Scotland, Wales, Spain, Italy and England. Thus the instruments on display here include not only the uilleann pipes, but the Highland, Northumbrian, Scottish small and Border varieties, as well as the Gaita Asturiana, the Gaita Gallega, the Launnedas, the Pipe Cwd, and the Ciaramella and Zampagna.
It’s an intoxicating brew made all the more intriguing by some of the international collaborations (and all the more enjoyable by the sheer clarity of Glenn Comiskey’s recordings, edited and mixed by Donncha Moynihan. So, the compilation by North Cregg’s Caoimhín Vallely (son of festival director Brian) offers such duos as Michael McGoldrick’s flute and the Asturian pipes of José Manuel Tejedor on Barralin. Elsewhere can be found the pairing of Anxo Lorenzo and Kathryn Tickell offering a selection of Galician tunes (albeit with a Northumbrian flavour).
Lovers of uilleann piping will be well satisfied by the expertise of Robbie Hannan, Dorsa’s Tiarnán Ó Duinnchinn and Lúnasa’s Cillian Vallely (both as a duo and singly – the latter on a bonus studio track), Mick O’Brien and Tommy Keane while McGoldrick also pops up for a rare solo outing on Jenny Picking Cockles/The Earl’s Chair
However, the unquestionably outstanding track is a jaw-dropping work-out on an untitled set of tunes by the Galician piper Anxo Lorenzo, a staggering improvisation whose combination of sheer speed and unbridled imagination simply defies belief!
This is an original review by Geoff Wallis
For more information about the Pipers Club and the William Kennedy Piping Festival visit www.armaghpipers.com.