Na Beanna Beola (The Twelve Bens - The Peaks of Beola)
No label SLFOR004
1. The Humours of Castleoliver / Molly in the Wad 2. Cucanandy / Máire Gaillimhe / The Dusty Miller 3. Eileanóir a Rún 4. The One That Got Away / Paddy Kelly's / Tailor I Am0 5. Boys of the Lough / Drowsy Maggie / The Birmingham 6. Whiskey Ó Roudelum / Bean Páidín / Whiskey Ó Roudelum 7. The Invisible Corncrake 8. Charlie Harris's / The Sligo Maid / The Duke of Leinster 9. The Collier's Reel / The Swallow's Tail / Lady Montgomery 10. An Caisideach Bán 11. The Gardener's Daughter / All the Way to Galway 12. An Bonnán Buí 13. The Warbling Robin / The Quiet House 14. Cherish the Ladies
Fiachra O'Regan is an uilleann piper from Roundstone in Connemara, now living in Quebec and this is his second solo recording. He plays two set of pipes, one in concert pitch D and the other pitched a tone and a half below concert, usually referred to as a flat set. In addition there are a couple of sets of tunes and a slow air played on tin whistle where Fiachra is accompanied by Andre Marchant on guitar.
They say you shouldn't judge a book by its cover and whatever you might think of the idiosyncratic painting on the cover, (a far cry from that on his first CD), the music on the CD is quite good. The piping is built on precise fingerwork with tight triplets and a trill on E and F# associated with Seamus Ennis that he used to term a "shake". There's also some nice cranning on the Dusty Miller, another tune I associated with Ennis.
Jigs predominate and generally they are taken at a steady pace; the first set of reels, on track 5, feels a little rushed in comparison. Variety and interest is provided by adding the regulator chords on the repeats, often longish chords with occasional tapping in rhythm. Incidentally it's interesting to see how the titles of tunes get twisted as the tunes are passed on from one musician to the next. The tune on track 4 called here Tailor I am is credited to the Kerry fiddle player Paddy Cronin. Cronin was recorded in 1949 by Seamus Ennis where he paired The Tailor with Tell her I am, and the names have obviously become intertwined.
There are four slow airs in this collection. Two are from sean nós songs local to Connemara. The third is a recent composition of Connemara flute player Marcus Hernon and the final air is the more well known air An Bonnán Buí. The original poem was translated into English by Seamus Heaney and included on the CD he made with Liam O'Flynn. This air is played on the whistle by Fiachra.
The Rogge flat set doesn't have the mellow reedy tone that some of the classic old sets have but the tone is sweet and both sets of pipes are generally well tuned and balanced. There's an unfortunate slip in the playing of An Caisideach Ban possibly due to a loss of pressure on the bag that mars the final time through.
O'Regan regularly plays and tours with a local group in North America (see Grosse Isle review) and he should be commended for limiting the accompaniment to the whistle tracks, allowing the pipes to presented to good effect. The production is very good, the overall sound and tone of the pipes is faithfully recorded. There's some quite detailed sleeve notes providing context and sources for the tunes as well as nods of gratitude to his various teachers and mentors. Overall this is a fine example of good solid uilleann piping, available from Bandcamp where you can listen to all of the tracks.
Ken Ricketts & Marya Parker - 3.10.23