There is hardly a superlative in the language that has not, at one time or another, been used to describe the unique genius of fiddler Brendan Mulvihill. Having begun his career as a first-class interpreter of Irish dance music, he now inhabits another, much loftier place, where reels and jigs commingle with classically-inspired O'Carolan tunes, and he is forever extending the boundaries of the music while nevertheless remaining true to the tradition.
As is the case with all of the great jazz masters and legendary Irish musicians of a bygone era, Mulvihill is forever exploring the improvisational possibilities of a piece of music. His co-pilot in these explorations is the equally gifted keyboardist Donna Long, whose baroque harpsichord embellishments are the perfect complement to Mulvihill's intricate reworkings of some of the most complex O'Carolan pieces.
Long's piano accompaniments reflect her abiding interest in Cape Breton, Irish, and even popular music forms, and her solos cap an already astounding exhibition of two instrumental masters doing what they do best.THIS CD IS OUT OF STOCK AT PRESENT
BRENDAN MULVIHILL AND DONNA LONG
The Steeplechase (Red Lion)
MOSTLY a collection of fiddle and piano duets, The Steeplechase isn't likely to enjoy a broad audience, but within Celtic music circles it's bound to be regarded as a small gem.
Brendan Mulvihill, an All-Ireland fiddle champ and well known in these parts for his work with the Irish Tradition, plays with both verve and soulfulness throughout, moving from spirited reels and hornpipes to haunting airs. Drawn from a variety of Irish and Scottish sources reaching back to Turlough O'Carolan's time, the tunes have an intrinsic charm and durability all their own.
In giving each its due, Mulvihill combines technical finesse with a richly expressive tone, while pianist Donna Long contributes jaunty rhythms to the up tempo pieces and provides discreet, flattering settings for the ballads.The album isn't entirely devoted to duets, however. The Little Red Lark takes graceful flight, thanks to Long's sensitive solo interpretation, and later, Mulvihill rolls up his sleeves and lets the bow fly on a robust and often challenging collection of reels.