The High Road to Kilkenny follows our recording of the complete fl ute sonatas of J. S. Bach (Alpha 186).
My research on the diversity of musical phrasing at the time of Bach, in the light of period documents and more especially of the Solfeggi of J. J. Quantz, resonates with that of living Irish music.
This programme is the outcome of a patient exploration of the musical sources, composed in Ireland chiefly in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries and published in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, and of the original sung texts. For the sake of variety I have chosen works belonging to different genres, with an extremely refi ned and skilled repertory of settings of poetry (Lord Mayo, Sir Ulick Burke, among others) and a lighter repertory of songs and dances (Do Chuirfi nnse Féin Mo Leanbh a Chodladh, Oro Mhor a Mhoirin, Kitty’s Wishes).
I discovered Irish music and its performing practice around twenty years ago, when I was still a student in Barthold Kuijken’s Baroque flute class in Brussels. To attune one’s ear to the demands of an oral tradition was an eminently complementary training to what we were taught at the conservatory.
I have joyful memories of my fi rst backpacking trip around the Emerald Isle in the late 1990s. What an enchantment! The verdant landscapes, the fairytale (though fl eeting!) moments when the sun came out, the atmospheres so different from anything I’d known elsewhere are engraved on my memory.
And, above all, the hospitality and the musical encounters were particularly rich and enlightening in this country where music has remained a way of life. But this ‘popular’ practice shouldn’t obscure the fact that the old harper-poets like Turlough O’Carolan and his predecessors played for ‘polite society’: the music they left us is the music of the aristocracy.
It is with joy that I share these emotions of different kinds today with listeners to this latest production of Les Musiciens de Saint-Julien. (liner notes, written by François Lazarevitch)
After For Ever Fortune (Alpha Classics, 2010), this second incursion of Les Musiciens de Saint-Julien in Celtic lands, The High Road to Kilkenny, combines refined, ‘highbrow’ pieces along with an entertaining repertoire of songs in Gælic and dances from the Irish Baroque.
Embodied in a language, dances and emblematic instruments, Irish music also bears in it the mark of an insular pœtry and a turbulent history. Thus, it is to these that this exhilarating, entrancing programme bears witness, and for which François Lazarevitch went back to original texts and collections of the 18th and 19th centuries. Varied couplets, lullabies, minstrel songs and hymns to Nature relate and dance to themes of love, infidelity, and the seasons as well as occupation and exile.
Sensitive to interpreting this repertoire today, short of the picturesque or ossified codes, Les Musiciens de Saint-Julien find inspiration in the art of phrasing and ornamentation taught in numerous Baroque treatises, the energy and pœtry of period instruments, and the mix of musical traditions and sources. Here they are at home at the table of the great Irish names of the 17th and 18th centuries, and once again cross paths with one of their faithful partners: tenor Robert Getchell, very much present on the Baroque lyric stage and impassioned by different kinds of Irish music.
What a great album … music from centuries many years ago … but still a fascinating music !
Lucile Boulanger (viola da gamba)
Marie Bournisien (harp)
Caitlín Nic Gabhann (dance)
Robert Getchell (vocals)
David Greenberg (violin)
Bruno Helstroffer (theorbo, lute)
François Lazarevitch (flute, tin whistle, smallpipes)
Bill Taylor (harp)
01. Óró Mhór a Mhóirín – The Gorum 4.48
02. Sir Uillioc de Búrca 4.44
03. An Drumadóir 2.39
04. Cuckold Come Out the Amery 4.15
05. Edward Corcoran 2.37
06. Síle Bheag Ní Chonnalláin 3.09
07. Sir Arthur Shaen – Colonel Irwin – Clonmell Lassies – The Scolding Wife 5.12
08. Tiarna Mhaigh Eo 6.10
09. Soggarth Shamus O’Finn 3.29
10. When She Cam Ben, She Bobbit – Kitty’s Wishes 5.09
11. Do Chuirfinnse Féin Mo Leanbh a Chodladh 3.42
12. The Banks Of Barrow 3.41
13. James Betagh – Lady Wrixon 4.03
14. O’Neill’s Riding Barrack Hill – Petrie No. 94 – Irish Air 4.13
15. King Of The Blind 3.18
16. Molly Nic Ailpín 3.25
17. The Cunning Young Man 1.32
18. The High Road To Kilkenny – Toss the Feathers – The Mill Stream – Money Musk 3.19