Earle Hitchner review of Begley & Ó Raghallaigh’s A Moment of Madness

Without accompaniment, which is a seemingly growing trend in Ireland that I identified in prior “Ceol” columns, Begley and O Raghallaigh deliver the full power of their joint music on “A Moment of Madness.” Their use of dynamics and their control of tempo–descending into whispery softness or ascending into bright boldness, slowing the pace or accelerating it–are as deft as they get in Irish traditional music, and the passages of improvisation are so rich in invention and detail that each subsequent close listening provides further, deeper disclosures. Binding their techniques in service of the tune is unadulterated jubilance.

The tangy, eminently danceable, Sliabh Luachra flavor of “The Humours of Lisheen / The Munster Jig / Sean Coughlin’s” summons images of Johnny O’Leary, Padraig O’Keeffe, Denis Murphy, and Julia Clifford sitting in a session together. The swing in Begley and O Raghallaigh’s box-and-fiddle playing is infectious.

Recorded live at the Lab in Dingle, “An Buachaill Caol Dubh / On Book Hill: Quail Dove (or Debut Kill) / I Wish I Had a Kerry Cow” begins hauntingly with Begley’s solo button accordion playing and then switches in tempo to a brisk blend of box and fiddle for the next two tunes. This track has so much in it–Brendan plays the box with nimble slyness while O Raghallaigh plays pizzicato on fiddle at one point–that it demands re-listening, preferably under headphones. (Irish Echo) >>>


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