The Piper and the Fairy Queen

Floral design

Exploring the common heritage of traditional Irish tunes and Baroque dances
Camerata Kilkenny
RTElyric fm CD156

[dropcap]I[/dropcap]t is a good concept to place side by side aspects of traditional Irish music and representations of Baroque rusticity for effect and artistic juxtaposition. After the opening piece by Turlough O’Carolan, the famed, blind Irish harpist, comes the first Baroque encounter, Telemann’s G minor Suite, “La Musette” (TWV55:g1), for a long time thought to be the only extant work of the 1736 Set of Suites (now known not to be the case, thanks to Pratum Integrum’s fabulous recording). The “musette” or Bagpipe imitation comes in the seventh movement, followed by the exuberant “Harlequinade” finale. This work and later Telemann’s ingenious “Gulliver Suite” (Tracks 12-16) are played with adequate impetus and attention to details, yet we have heard larger ensembles adding dazzling élan  and giddy contours to the music. The other Baroque works are equally tackled with a much “leaner” overall sound than many might have encountered before, but it must be said when the Uillean Pipe comes to the fore, on its own, it is an acquired taste, and might induce the “Marmite effect”!?

When it is accompanied by the rest of the ensemble, some of this instrument’s forthright qualities are melded and mitigated, less exposed in its earthy “gurgle”. Again, how do you like your Marmite spread?? Thickly or a subtle smearing? This could also have an effect on how you listen to this recording, all the way through, or with a selective spread-out approach? The programme may well work within a concert setting, even a pub atmosphere. If you can take the hefty Irish Folk brew alongside delicate, nuanced Baroquery you might find a home for this recording.

David Bellinger

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