A great CD from one of Ireland's greatest bands
Peter Kasin | California | 12/20/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Altan has been promoting the traditional music of Donegal for well over a decade now. The Donegal style of Irish fiddle music is known for its high energy, its aggressive bowing, its relation to Scottish music, and for types of tunes such as "Highlands," "Lancers," and "Germans," which are not found in the counties to the South, and it is Donegal's fiddle music that predominates Altan's recordings. The melodic heart of this album is the twin fiddling of Mairead Ni Mhaonaigh and Paul O'Shaughnessy, and the flute playing of Mairead's late husband, Frankie Kennedy. Ciaran Curran's bouzouki and Mark Kelly's guitar accompaniment, plus the accompaniment of various guests, are both driving and subtle. The musical sympathy between the musicians is evident in the way that Mhaonaigh's and O'Shaughnessy's different approaches to bowing blend in with and complement each other's, and how tight and polished, yet vibrant and alive this album is. This musical sympathy is not all that surprising, given that Altan's musicians have been playing together at pub sessions and festivals for many years prior to their decision to form a touring band. The Red Crow contains both tunes that are standards of the Donegal fiddler's repertoire, and Donegal settings of tunes known throughout Ireland. There are also some newly composed tunes, including the now widely popular Brenda Stubbert's reel, composed by Cape Breton fiddler Jerry Holland. Mairead Ni Mhaonaigh's beautiful, soulful voice is heard on several songs sung in Irish, and one in English. The Red Crow is at once exciting, polished, and well-balanced between types of tunes and songs. I agree with the reviewer who said this is Altan's finest recording to date. Its energy and selection of tunes is, I feel, unmatched by their other recordings. You may have your own favorite of Altan's. Certainly whichever of their albums you choose, you can't go wrong. Altan has many imitators, but there's nothing quite like the original."
Excellent CD that displays a range of emotions.
Peter Kasin | 12/30/1998
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This is one of the first Celtic CD's I ever purchased and although I now own all of Altan's CD's this one remains among my favorites. From the high energy reels like Yellow Tinker, Brenda Stubbert's and The Emmyvale through the more mellow jigs, slip jigs, and Tommy Bhetty's Waltz to the traditional songs sung by Mairead Ni Mhaonaigh, this CD will have you going from dancing to near tears and back again in less than an hours time. The fiddle of Ni Mhaonaigh and flute of her late husband Frankie Kennedy entwine as one instrument. The backing fiddle, guitar and bouzouki work of Paul O'Shaughnessy, Mark Kelly, and Ciaran Curran, respectively, provide just the right bottom for each tune. I think Altan ranks right up there with the Bothy Band when it come to classic Irish groups and this CD really shows their talents!"