THIS is lovely. The Kerry-born concertina player Cormac Begley sat down in a studio and played thirteen tune selections on four different concertinas, completely unadorned, and he has created a wonderfully personal recording that communicates all manner of images but mostly speaks of one man’s immersion in melody and rhythm and of the tradition in which he grew up.
From the bass concertina’s deep puffer train-like dunt through baritone and treble to his brilliantly nimble playing on the piccolo member of the family, Begley crosses seven octaves and produces a marvellous variety of sounds as he plays jigs, reels, polkas, Schottisches, slides and airs.
At times it’s hard not to think that he might be blowing an instrument by mouth or bellows as the slur of harmonica notes or the stab of uilleann pipes’ regulators suggest themselves in dance tunes that are essentially conversations between right hand and left, with the instruments’ buttons sometimes tapping out the steps.
The two airs, Rocking the Cradle and Beauty Deas an Oileain, provide contrast in the former’s waltzing lilt and the latter’s rich vocal eloquence and The Fermoy Lasses becomes a romping celebration on an album that repays careful listening handsomely.
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