subtitle of this CD aptly describes the project: Music of the Harper
Turlough O'Carolan arranged for the Guitar by Keith Hinchliffe. Carolan
was an Irish composer and performer whose life straddled the turn of
the 17th century. He was a contemporary of the Italian baroque composer
and writer Francesco Geminiani and although Carolan's music connects
naturally with the traditional music of Ireland, it also shows leanings
towards the Italian style.Western Europe was surprisingly cosmopolitan
then - Geminiani died in Dublin and the two men knew each other. Both
would have been interested in this album, Geminiani because one of his
books was 'The Art of Playing the Guitar'.
Hinchliffe is an accomplished performer, well known in Yorkshire and
the North Midlands as a committed researcher and arranger of music for
solo guitar.Further afield he is perhaps best known as a former member
of the Albion Band. He has a previous solo recording, an eclectic album
of songs and tunes.Carolan's Dream has a much sharper focus, consisting
of one hour of Carolan's instrumental music.
sometimes implied that Irish music equals jigs and reels. Not so !
There is also a wonderfully rich tradition of airs, marches and
waltzes, and it is these, rather than the dance tunes, that comprise
Keith's album. It's not an album to dance to - I didn't notice my feet
tapping at all! It's an album for listening, or for simply evoking
atmosphere. This it does very successfully, through the selection and
the arrangements of the tunes and through the warm, rich, reverberant
sound of the guitar.
as I know, Carolan left nothing other than melodies, with no indication
of tempo or dynamics, so Keith must be credited with the first class
arranging and harmonic design. Of the 19 tracks, there are four
highlights that stood out for me. The stately, beautiful tune
has an effective,
unfussy accompaniment and the sound is enriched by Keith's occasional
ringing harmonics, not used to show off technique, but because it makes
musical sense (This seems a relatively rare consideration on
guitarists' albums.) Cremonea is an unusual air, convincingly
arranged, with tension created through the careful use of semitone
much of the album, the title track, Carolan's Dream, is rich and
atmospheric, and Carolan's Farewell to Music is
performed as a particularly moody, expressive and evocative piece.
While I have nothing but admiration for these and the other slower
tunes, I don't feel so enthusiastic about the faster pieces. To my ear
these sometimes sound rushed and they tend to suffer in comparison with
the airs, which are outstanding, not least for Keith's spacey tempi.'
sympathetic production by Christopher Madin and the guitars made by
Nicholas Scott add significantly to the overall professional sound of