Listening to this CD is like sitting in the front row of a small house concert, listening to the performers play. There is a sense of intimacy that permeates throughout, giving the listener the sense of a private audience with the musicians. Added to this is the clarity of the sound and the strength of the instrumentalists' fingers. The harp sounds distinct and clear, and there is no missing the sound of the bow moving across the fiddle's strings. This close, friendly sound gives the listener a strong connection with the performers, making the recording more inviting and compelling.
Castlebay is a collaboration between harper Julia Lane and multi-instrumentalist Fred Gosbee. Lane's harp takes center-stage throughout much of the recording, but Gosbee's fiddle and flute lines are found on many of the tunes.
Among the highlights of the recording is an original tune by Lane, "'s Dream," named for her daughter. Lane's tune has a definite courtly quality to it, making it fit perfectly with the surrounding tunes. The lilting, uplifting melody is dreamlike in quality, accented by Lane's superb playing. The addition of the Irish flute, played by Sharon Pyne, gives just the right touch to this charming tune.
There is also a beautifully rendered harp solo, "Annie Laurie," which delivers all of the emotion and passion this elegant and beautiful tune could possibly possess. The arrangement of "My Lagan Love" captures the mysterious elements of the tune, featuring ethereal harp sounds and soaring, lyricless vocals. The effect is like the wind capturing the lady's perfume and playing with it in the air before delivering it to her lover.
Gosbee's fiddle takes center stage on "Neil Gow's Lament on the Death of His 2nd Wife," drawing the bitter-sweet melody from the strings with passion, while the harp delicately backs the melody with a simple and moving accompaniment. Gosbee also plays viola, woodwinds and guitar at various points on the recording. There are also several guest instrumentalists, including Doreen Conboy on cello for "Minuet for Anna Magdalena" and George Haig featured heavily on autoharp on "Mary Queen of Scots."
The recording opens and closes in praise of different Morags. "Morag of Dunvegan" is a delightful traditional air from Scotland that successfully combines happy and sad elements in one simple melody. "Morag Henriksen" is a mournful, introspective tune by Gordon Bok, which ends the recording on a quiet note.
Overall, the choice of tunes is what makes this recording great. The playing is crisp and emotional, and the arrangements are well planned and choreographed as well, adding interest and variety to the recording. My main complaint would be about the sound of the harp itself.There is something a bit hollow and plunky about the sound. It is difficult to determine whether this is the sound of the instrument itself, or whether it is due to a poor choice of microphone or mike placement. Despite this shortcoming, however, these tunes will remain with the listener for many a delightful hour.
Welcome to the garden, where all is peaceful and serene. There's a breeze whispering through the flowers and a ripple in the babbling brook. The wandering pathways lead you past the sights and smells of springtime, complete with blooming roses. This is the way spring should feel.
Castlebay, a duo from maritime Maine, brings a real sense of joy to the music they play. It is delightful to hear this duo in any setting, whether live or recorded. The gentle pluck of Julia Lane's harp strings delightfully accompanies Fred Gosbee's many instruments, including whistle and fiddle. The instrumental balance is always superb, and the two clearly think as one, to create such smooth and flowing music.
In a Garden Green is a delightful collection of tunes, beautifully capturing the essence of nature, as kept by mankind. The snapshot of the garden begins at the end of winter, celebrating that "Gloomy Winter's Now Awa'." Gosbee's fiddle has an almost psaltery-like quality to it on this slightly mournful tune, backed by a halting and haunting harp accompaniment.
"Smiling Spring" is performed as a lilting harp solo, full of crisp ornamentation that gives the feeling of a dancing brook. One can hear "The Heather Breeze" sighing, coupled with a dance of "The Butterfly," a delightful Irish slip-jig played with a skip in the whistle's voice.
Other tunes include "The Southwind," "A Rosebud by My Early Walk," "Spring o' Shillelagh," "Corn Rigs," "Country Garden" and "Harvest Home." There's a delightful set of 16th-century Italian lute tunes, "An Italian Bouquet," lending a bit of antiquity to the recording.
The title track, "All in a Garden Green," is also elegantly historical, suggesting English garden parties of the upper class. This one is particularly effective, featuring a guest flutist, Patricia Boyle-Wright, playing in a duet with Gosbee's whistle while Lane provides a contemplative accompaniment. Guest cellist Doreen Conboy takes over the melody most effectively on the second verse and provides a delightful counterpoint throughout.
One of the highlights of the recording is Julia Lane's original composition, "Migration," written in honor of the Monarch butterflies she observed one autumn. The music rises and falls in patterns much like the movement of butterflies.
The sounds of nature surface above the music from time to time, reminding you of the garden setting. Coupled with a lack of overbearing reverberation (heard on many harp recordings), this gives the recording a fresh, live sound. It is much like attending a concert in a park or garden setting.
Turn to this recording when you need a refreshing turn through delightfully kept gardens on a rainy day. You will come away content.
The opening antiphonal calls of a French horn alert the listener right away that this CD is going to be something special. The horn blends beautifully into the opening chords of "March of the King of Laois", played at a slow, stately pace by Julia Lane on harp. The French horn blends skillfully into an accompanying role, then takes over the melody. The horn calls evoke the image of a royal herald or the call to a hunt, which is perfect for this royal march. One can easily envision the hunt gathered together, awaiting the King's entrance so that they can embark on their favorite pastime.
Fourth in Castlebay's six-part series of recordings that reflect the music and themes of a time of chivalry, romance, and natural grandeur, Gentlemen works its magic through an excellent collection of tunes, presented in both traditional and innovative arrangements. Castlebay has chosen an array of excellent musicians to accompany them, including Barbara Burt on French horn, Doreen Conboy on cello, Laura Lee Perkins on flutes, and piper Ian MacHarg on Scottish smallpipe.
This recording, featuring such tunes as "Ruari Dall's Jig," "Carolan's Draught", "When the King Came Over the Boyne", "Angus Campbell", "The Iron Man", and "Two Laments for Owen Roe", cannot fail to show the wide array of sounds and styles of music from the British Isles. The excellent arrangements highlight the special character of each tune.
One example is the stunning opening of "King of the Faeries", opening with a very mystical, magical harp solo by Julia Lane. Her interpretation makes this piece flow, with dramatic pauses in just the right places, and the occasional sounds of a triangle or wind chimes to keep the feeling ethereal. "Dainty Davy" shows equal imagination, interweaving harp, guitar, and Scottish smallpipe in a gradual crescendo of sound, then adding and subtracting various instruments to keep things rich and complex on this simple and elegant tune.
My only complaint with this recording is that a few of the instruments and/or tracks seem to be recorded with the microphones too close to the instrument, capturing a slight feeling of distortion or heaviness that would have been pleasanter on the ear with a bit more distance. That said, however, the recording does manage to achieve a very close, intimate sound by the use of such close recording work. Listening to this feels very much like being in attendance at an exciting house concert.
The recording closes with an almost orchestral arrangement of "The Minstrel
Boy", featuring brass, winds, and cello. The arrangement interweaves lush
and sparse instrumentation to great effect, leaving the listener with a sense
of longing at the end of a rich recording.
Thanksgiving- a time for convivial gatherings of friends and family from near and far; celebrations in gratitude for loved ones, bountiful harvests, and good health. These musical selections reflect loving relationships, journeys made over bonnie hill and dale, the warmth of house and hearth, and the simple gifts of good food and drink. The music ranges from that which would have been heard by the first colonists in New England to melodies inspired by people and places in our own lives. It is our hope that it will provide a peaceful and joyous accompaniment to your harvest holidays.
The Thanksgiving holiday is a special time of homecoming and hospitality. The music of this season stirs memories of home and hearth, bounty and peace. We reflect on our heritage in gratitude for our many blessings, for the beauty of the earth itself and for the amazing grace that keeps us filled with hope. Many of us travel over the river and through the wood to be among ones so dear for a friendly visit and a feast with the old folks at home. We gather together around the laden table in the warmth of a familiar circle and welcome both friend and stranger. When we finally drink a parting glass, we realize we are always renewed by going home.
We Gather Together mp3 [2:47]
Homecoming © Julia Lane) mp3 [5:52]
Celtic harp, Irish flute
Celtic and wire strung harp
Amazing Grace mp3 [6:34]
Solo Celtic harp with choir
Celtic harp with Irish flutes, cello
Over the Hills and Away mp3 [4:11]
solo Celtic harp with choir
Celtic harp with roof board (Arkansas Traveller) and clam hoe (Turkey in the Straw)
Celtic harp and viola
The Parting Glass mp3 [2:55]
solo Celtic harp
Celtic harp, violin, pennywhistle, French horns (played by Barbara Burt) and tuba.
-- Ginger McDevitt
In the Celtic tradition, an Imram is a journey to the inner realms of dream and vision. Here, the magical strains of the Celtic harp interweave with strings, woodwinds, and ethereal voices providing a vehicle for the journey. The warm sound of hand-crafted instruments recalls romantic images of a bygone era. This timeless quality evokes the moods and seasons of a beautiful garden and glimpses of mysterious islands emerging from shimmering mist. The listener returns from the Imram relaxed, rejuvenated, and inspired.
2007-11-21 © Castlebay, Inc.