sat 17/03/2018

CD: The Gloaming - Live at The NHC | reviews, news & interviews

CD: The Gloaming - Live at The NHC

CD: The Gloaming - Live at The NHC

Masters of musical mesmerism hit their peak

Since forming in 2013, The Gloaming have set about transforming how Irish traditional music is heard, received and performed. There is no other group like them, and none with the sheer heft of brilliance that fiddler Martin Hayes, viola/hardanger player Caoimhín Ó Raghallaigh, sean nos singer Iarla Ó Lionáird, American pianist Thomas Bartlett and guitarist Dennis Cahill demonstrate on their two studio albums, and on this superlative live set from Dublin’s National Concert Hall, which has become something of a home-from-home for the group (Martin Hayes is the venue’s artist in residence) – their only concerts of the year have just concluded there.

The album is produced by Bartlett, and its six extended choices are drawn from two years of performances. Beginning with the charming melody of “The Booley House” – here expanded into a vast universe of possibilities – this is Irish traditional music guided by the spirits of minimalism, jazz and contemporary classical, fusing form and feeling with dazzling improvisations that transform tunes like “The Sailor’s Bonnet” into huge and hugely enthralling explorations – the version here clocks in at 13.27 minutes, while the closing Fainleog is just shy of 20. And the miracle is that there is not an ounce of fat, no extravagance, no decadence, but all the joy and excitement and nuance of unbottling great new music from these old tunes, on a nightly basis, an elixir shared between five master musicians.

We first hear O Lionaird’s voice on the 10-minute “Cucanandy” (a “dandling” song, one meant for dancing), his style of delicate precision caught beautifully here and throughout the six-song set. Hayes and O’Raghallaigh’s fiddle, hardanger and viola d’amore work wonders between them, often rising to peaks of energy and release, while Bartlett’s piano carries the drama of expression and Cahill’s guitar holds a tight measure. It’s an hour-plus of pure, unadulterated musical pleasure, a few slivers of time drawn from across their 17 sold-out performances at the NEC. This is one of the great live recordings, in any genre.


It’s an hour-plus of pure, unadulterated musical pleasure


Editor Rating: 
Average: 5 (1 vote)

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