Top positive review
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Wonderful performances, but don't always suit the tunes
on April 1, 1999
While the quality of the selections on this album is uniformly excellent, I wasn't as satisfied with it overall as I have been with other collections of O'Carolan tunes. I finally figured out why: O'Carolan wrote his melodies for harp, where the resonances in the empty spaces between the notes are as important as the notes themselves. The most successful tracks on this album are those featuring the harp itself, or plucked/hammered string instruments that emulate it, such as guitar and piano (I think Donna Long's "Mrs. Judge" is brilliant). Other selections, e.g., John Whelan's lively "Carolan's Concerto," work well because the tune requires agility rather than expressiveness. But the slow tunes are less effective on an instrument such as the flute, where the melody becomes a series of legato notes with no breaks between them: compare Jerry O'Sullivan's rendition of "Carolan's Farewell to Music" with, say, Patrick Ball's, and you'll see what I mean. I still enjoy the album in general, but I tend to skip some tracks when I play it!