Various Artists

From a Distant Shore: Irish and Cape Breton Traditional Music

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This budget-priced four-disc set compiles four previously released CDs, all of them recorded live during the various traditional music festivals that are staged regularly at University College, Cork. Fiddle Sticks: Music from Donegal is a fiddle showcase that features such renowned Donegal fiddlers as Proinsas O Maonaigh, Ciaran Tourish, and, notably, the legendary Tommy Peoples. The fiddling is excellent, but those without a deep interest in this tradition may find that the lack of any other accompanying instruments makes things a bit tedious. Across the Waters: Irish Traditional Music from England is much more varied in texture; piper Brendan Ring and flutist Niall Keegan are both breathtaking, and there are also very fine performances from banjoist John Carty and accordion player Karen Tweed. Dear Old Erin's Isle: Irish Traditional Music from America is perhaps the best of the four discs: it generally features soloists (including fiddlers Seamus Connolly and Eileen Ivers as well as the outstanding young flutist Séamus Egan), but also includes several duets and one fine trio performance. The final disc, Traditional Music from Cape Breton Island, is also excellent; the more lyrical, Scots-influenced tunes are a refreshing change, and the playing is consistently great. The piano accompaniment is poorly recorded, however, and practically inaudible throughout. Overall, this box is highly recommended to all lovers of traditional Irish and Cape Breton music.

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