Boys of the Lough’s Midwinter Night’s Dream

MI0001524019Chuck Lipsig penned this review.

On Midwinter Night’s Dream, Boys of the Lough include Aly Bain (fiddle), Cathal McConnell (flute, whistles, song), Dave Richardson (concertina, mandolin, cittern, accordion), and Christy O’Leary (uilleann pipes, whistles, song). They call on Christmas and winter traditions of Ireland, Scotland, Shetland, and Sweden to put together a fine CD.

Among the tunes, the better sets include the set of “The Greenland Man’s Tune,” (which the notes credit as an Eskimo tune), “Da Forfit o’ Da Ship,” and “Green Grow da Rashes,” which have more of a wandering feel than one might expect during a North Seas winter. “Da Trowie Burn,” an air commemorating perhaps a creek either inhabited by or protection from the “little people or Trows,” beautifully summons the image of an eerie, winter landscape. “That Night in Bethlehem” is a lovely Irish Christmas carol. “The Hare’s Lament” is a fine song of a hunt from the prey’s point of view.

The highlight of the CD is a set consisting of the Swedish carol, “Sankt Staffan Han Rider” (“Saint Stephen was Riding”); the Shetland fiddle tune, “Christmas Day in the Morning,” which is simply too good to be limited to a single day; and a Swedish march, “Trettondagsmarschen,” which was too good to be limited to the winter and which is now also the official tune of a midsummer festival.

All in all, this is a solid CD from a masterful group. Much of the music here are tunes that are rarely, if ever, found elsewhere. It definitely summons the feel of the seasons, if a rather melancholy feel. Incidentally, the front cover photo of the Ring of Brodgar in the Orkney Islands is one of the most beautiful pieces of album art I’ve seen.

(Blix Street Records, 1996)

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