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Review
 by Dave Sissons in Stirrings magazine


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Listening to this CD you have to remember that the human hand usually has just four fingers and a thumb, and a guitar usually has just six strings. Considering that there is no dual-tracking you might wonder about the sheer physical possibility of what you are hearing.

Keith's fourth album presents music of the 16th to 18th centuries, mostly written for many different instruments. With the use of open tuning on his Nicholas Scott Triple O model guitar, Keith often makes his ringing guitar strings sound like a metal-strung harp or a harpsichord. The album consists of five John Dowland, two Anthony Holborne, three Turlough 0' Carolan, two J S Bach plus an assortment of one-offs by Cornelius Lyons, Henry Purcell (three minuets), Thomas Robinson and a couple of anons.

It starts with Dowland's Galliard, which is a shorter minor-keyed version of The King Of Denmark's Galliard, and it includes some pretty flash ornamentation. An accompanying book of the arrangements is available, and I look forward to counting the notes involved in one particular bit of ornamentation, which I understand is in the original texts. Aurally I lost count! But on the whole this is not a CD of "flash for the sake of flash", The Carolan tunes exemplify what seems to be a general strategy of emphasising the emotion-triggering nature of the melodies .There is a lovely juxtaposition of Carolan’s melancholy Lament for Owen O’Rourke followed by the delightfully jolly and traditional Blue Eyed Stranger. There is an example of figured bass on Bach’s Gavotte en Rondeau, and I wondered what this would sound like if jazzed up with a Jethro Tull treatment. Two slowish waltzes, Planxty Irwin and Greensleeves, have top lines backed up by busy accompaniments, and it is especially on these that you wonder if two guitars are playing.

This is indeed an excellent album and recommended unreservedly. I’ve heard a lot of these tunes  by people like Julian Bream (lute), Derek Bell (harp) and Grainne Yeats (harp), and I can only say Keith’s guitar versions are often more adventurous.

 

 
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